Baking

Four Years

Four years ago I finally made the decision to go vegan. After being vegetarian for 13 years and toying with the idea of being vegan for three years, I finally took the plunge in August of 2010. It has been one of the best decisions of my life. I’ve met some great people and eaten some delicious food over the past four years. And now I get to share that experience with two amazing people: E and Little H. 20140209-112103.jpg

E and Little H were born last October. We got off to a rough start with E spending almost 6 weeks in the NICU, but she was able to come home for Thanksgiving and has been doing great ever since. After many sleepless nights over the past nine months, I feel like we have somewhat of a routine now.

E and Little H have a great nanny, which has allowed me to go back to work part time, cook, train for a marathon, and occasionally take a nap. I’ve filled the blogging void with Instagram (follow me here), but I hope to get back into blogging at least once or twice a week now.

Besides baby smiles and laughs, the highlights of the last few months include:

1. Isa Does It. This cookbook is amazing. Most recipes are pretty quick, so it’s great for a week night. Everything we’ve tried has been delicious.

2. Getting back into running – the Woodstock Challenge 5K.

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3. A family trip to Wisconsin and a meeting of the cousins!

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4. A road trip to Nashville to celebrate the marriage of my best friend from high school.

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(The Wild Cow)

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(Khan’s Desserts)

5. A 24-hour trip to New Orleans for a bachelorette party

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6. Cookies – for Christmas, Chinese New Year, the Super Bowl, Groundhog Day, and St. Patrick’s Day

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Chocolate Cupcakes

Today is Vegan Mania in Chicago and I am so sad that I cannot make it this year. I’ve been the last two years and it is a great event with tons of delicious food and great speakers. But we have so much work to do to get the nursery ready and if I go to Chicago, I need to go to the Land of Nod to get sheets. I don’t have time to go to Vegan Mania and Land of Nod and make it back to Woodstock in time for a 4:00 wedding. So, if we get everything done today, then we’ll go to Chicago tomorrow for a reward. We’ll get sheets, have lunch at Native Foods and get milkshakes at Chicago Diner. Happy Birthday to me! If you are in Chicago today, you better be going to Vegan Mania and eating Temptation soft serve ice cream for me and pre-ordering a coat from Vaute Couture.

Not going to Vegan Mania means that we’ll be able to stop by the Loft BBQ for lunch. So, of course, I made cupcakes for the occasion – chocolate with peanut butter frosting & sprinkles and cookies & cream.

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Lemons & Blueberries

I have a friend who pins the most amazing looking baked goods on Pinterest. It’s my morning routine: feed the cat, grab a cup of decaf and curl up on the chaise to view Mary’s pins. Usually I just look, but every once and a while one makes it into my “Recipes that need to be veganized” board. One of those was a lemon blueberry yogurt cake.

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Lemon-Blueberry Yogurt Loaf

Veganized from Sweet Pea’s Kitchen

Loaf:
1 1/2 cups + 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour, divided
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup plain coconut yogurt
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons ground flax seed
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest (approximately 2 lemons)
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen, thawed and rinsed

For the Lemon Syrup:
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/3 cup sugar

For the Lemon Glaze:
1 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
2 to 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease bottom and sides of one 9 x 5-inch loaf pans; dust with flour, tapping out excess.

In a large bowl, whisk flax seed with 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon of water. Set aside for 5 minutes.
In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.
In the large bowl, whisk together the flax eggs with the yogurt, sugar, lemon zest, vanilla and oil. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients.

In a separate bowl, mix the blueberries with the remaining tablespoon of flour, and fold them gently into the batter.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake 50 to 55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean. Let cool in the pans for 10 minutes before removing loaf to a wire rack on top of a baking sheet.

While the loaf is cooling, make the lemon syrup in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir together the lemon juice and sugar until the sugar is completely dissolved. Once dissolved, continue to cook for 3 more minutes. Remove from the heat; set aside.
Poke holes in the tops of the warm loaf and brush the top with the lemon syrup. Let the syrup soak into the cake and brush again. Let the cake cool completely.
To make the lemon glaze, in a small bowl, whisk together the confectioners’ sugar and 2-3 tablespoons of the lemon juice. The mixture should be thick but pourable. Add more lemon juice if the mixture is too stiff. Pour the lemon glaze over the top of each loaf and let it drip down the sides. Let the lemon glaze harden, about 15 minutes, before serving. I used less glaze than the recipe called for and it was very good, but the glaze is delicious, so I’m sure using the whole amount would be pure sugar bliss.

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Blueberry lemonade

With the remaining lemon syrup, lemon juice and some frozen blueberries, I made a glass of blueberry lemonade.

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Vegan MoFo 2013 – Twinsies

The Best Pumpkin Muffins from Vegan with a Vengeance.

White chocolate chip & walnut

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My very first vegan cook book (bought in 2006); it’s seen better days.

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It’s Vegan MoFo 2013! This year it’s in September; I guess to get away from the 200 posts on pumpkin baked goods from previous October and November vegan mofos. So have a pumpkin muffin! The recipe title is accurate. As she was eating a white chocolate pumpkin muffin, my friend described them “the best.”

I haven’t been a very active blogger since I became pregnant. While I may have physically recovered from morning sickness, my motivation in the kitchen never bounced back. I imagine finding time to blog with two infants will be a challenge, so Vegan MoFo came at the right time this year. In honor of the twins, this year’s theme is Twinsies: similar but different foods (like pumpkin muffins done two ways), product reviews of two flavors, getting ready for the babies while eating enough protein for a multiples pregnancy.

White chocolate chip pumpkin muffins

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Walnut pumpkin muffins

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Together

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Vegan Dad

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Next Father’s Day won’t be as quiet as yesterday, because there will be two screaming babies in out house. In preparation for fatherhood, I bought H this e-cookbook. It is based on a blog by the same name. There are lots of kid-friendly recipes. Even though H is not a vegan dad, we’ll still be a vegan home and raise the twins vegan until they are old enough to make the decision themselves, so this book is a good resource to have. Last night I made the tofu chick’n pita in a wrap; the fried tofu was delicious. I also made McChick’n nuggets, which did not turn out well. I’ve made several good things from the blog, but I’m not a fan of his seitan recipes. Sadly, after all my hard work, the nuggets went into the trash.

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For dessert, I made tie & bowtie cookies.
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Reveal Cake:
We had an ultrasound the first week of June to find out the sex(es). I made a three-layer chocolate cake for my mom with a layer of frosting for each twin. Blue was for boy and green was for girl, because I don’t like pink.

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It’s a girl! And a boy!

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My sister and brother-in-law bought them these cute onsies.

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The Sweetest Reward

H wanted to bring in doughnuts to thank the staff for perfect December numbers. I was like, no, you’re married to a wannabe baker; you’ll bring cupcakes.

Vanilla cake with vanilla frosting
Chocolate cake with mocha frosting
Chocolate seltzer cupcakes with chocolate ganache, banana frosting and caramelized bananas (a Cupcake Wars winning recipe)

Unfortunately, H takes a somewhat hilly, pothole-filled road to get to one of the hospitals.  We learned that ganache is not as steady of a surface as cake and caramelized bananas can be a little heavy; by the time got to the hospital, some of the frosting was sliding off the side.  If I do make these again, I will wait to add the frosting and bananas until I get to the site.

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Mardi Gras 2013

To celebrate Mardi Gras this year, I made red beans and rice and tempeh étouffée. The red beans and rice was from Vegan Cooking for Carnivores by Roberto Martin; it was easy and pretty tasty. Apparently, quasi-vegan talk show host Ellen DeGeneres really likes it and she is from New Orleans, so I considered that a good endorsement.  My only complaint was the sausage; it’s not my favorite way to eat Field Roast sausages. I’d rather have more beans. Fortunately, the étouffée came out well, because the roux was labor intensive. I veganized a fancy Saveur crawfish étouffée recipe. Not a diet dish even if I cut down the margarine (12 tablespoons of butter!). I subbed two packages of tempeh, steamed and soaked in a broth all day (the broth was salty, so I cut out the salt in the recipe), margarine and vegan chick’n broth for the three non-vegan ingredients.

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Sadly no king cake this year, but I did make Mardi Gras sugar cookies.

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Year of the Small Dragon

Happy New Year! It’s the year of the snake.

Menu
Tahini Noodles from Vegan Yum Yum
Sweet Chili Lime Tofu from Vegan Yum Yum
Steamed Eggplant
Baby Bok Choy with black bean and garlic chili sauce
Spring Rolls with peanut sauce
Vegetable dumplings from the Fresh Market
Traditional Chinese Sugar Cookies

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Snake sugar cookies from Sticky Finger Sweets!

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I’m not going to lie; these are a little creepy to eat.

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Superbowl Sunday: San Fransciso v. Baltimore

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There was a lot of talk about the Harbaugh brothers before the game, but there was another family rivalry surrounding Superbowl XLVII. My sister and brother-in-law live in San Fransisco, so of course they were rooting for the 49ers. H lived in Baltimore for four years where he became a huge fan* of the Ravens. Hopefully our next family gathering won’t be too awkward.

I brought a Hostess Cupcake-inspired football cake to the Superbowl party we attended: chocolate cake from Sticky Fingers Sweets with cream filling, chocolate ganache and royal icing from Vegan with a Vengeance’s Fauxtess cupcakes.

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*and by “huge fan” I mean, he was aware of the existence of an NFL team in his city.