Mom-certified: "You always make such a mess when you cook"
 
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Happy Halloween from the curmudgeon hiding in the basement with the upstairs lights off so as to avoid trick-or-treaters (in our defense, we have no candy and a dog who has zero door etiquette).
Lest you think I have no Halloween spirit, witch fingers! I ran across this idea a few years ago but I cannot for the life of me remember where. This basic sugar cookie recipe, however, has been a mainstay of the holiday season in my family. This recipe alone could get you happily through the next three holidays.

I have to apologize for dropping off the face of the blogosphere for almost the entire month of October. Things got very busy this month and there was a lot of flour to clean off of, well, everything. My goal is to post weekly from now on, most likely on Saturday or Sunday. A little bit of a blog makeover might be in the works too...

Ingredients:
  • 3/4 cup soft margarine
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs-worth of an egg substitute*
  • 1 tsp almond extract (or mixture of vanilla and almond)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 3/4 cups flour
  • Almonds (for the nails)
*I used flax eggs (3 tbsp warm water + 1 tbsp ground flax = 1 flax egg) but egg replacer or corn starch might work better since the flax was sort of visible in the beige cookies. I guess it depends on how "pretty" you want your witch fingers to be.
Instructions:
Mix all of the ingredients and chill for about an hour. Form the dough into finger shapes about 1/4 to 1/2 inch wide. Use a butter knife to make three lines in the middle for the knuckle effect. You can either add the almond nails before baking or halfway through. I added them before baking and they turned out fine. Here are the original instructions for baking:
Thank you, my ever instructive family. Mine ended up taking closer to 15 minutes at 350 degrees to fully bake (and watching didn't help).
Think these look skinny enough?
Well, they're not, unless your goal is a bloated witch. For non-blorpy fingers, make sure they're quite thin before baking.
Hope everyone had a happy, haunted Halloween (someone please call an exorcist).
 
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Happy Vegan MoFo finale! 10 pounds of butter later, we made it. Next year I think my theme will be lettuce. Oof. To finish off this year's MoFo, I decided to truly wreck our kitchen and make a vegan princess torte. Every year for as long as I've known Dan, he's always wanted a princess torte for his birthday cake. We used to buy it from a nearby bakery, but I had to improvise when we went vegan. I Frankensteined this recipe together from a variety of sources.

Ingredients/Instructions:

I typically make 2 genoise cakes for the princess torte. I used 9 inch pans and baked the cakes for 48 minutes, just shy of the 50-60 minutes recommended for 10 inch pans. I very rarely get the timing right on the first shot. It's a MoFo miracle.

Meanwhile prep the custard/pastry cream.
Prep the cashew cream (custard on the left, cream on the right)
Ideally you're shooting for 3 layers of cake. But if your attempt to cut the cake into layers ends up like this, it works fine with only 2 layers. Wah wah.
Now start layering.
If you've got three layers of cake to work with, cover one layer of cake in jam, then 1/2 of the custard (properly stirred so it doesn't look regurgitated). I added about half of the cashew cream on top of the custard. Add the second layer of cake and spread the remaining custard. Top with the last layer of cake and spread cashew cream over it.
If you've only got two layers, do whatever you want. You're probably already irritated with this recipe.
This one is for the baking gods.
This one is for me.
Save some marzipan for the flower. Work green food dye into the rest of the marzipan and roll it out.
Drape the marzipan over the assembled cake and cut off the excess. You can use any excess marzipan for decorative flower leaves. This went slightly better than the apple pie crust. But only slightly.
So, poll time: Pac Man or derpy Kermit?
And now it's time to begin scraping the flour off/out of all of my electronics. I hope you've all enjoyed the punctuation (and words with all of their letters). That turned into an effort about 5 posts ago.

Happy 2013 Vegan MoFo!
 
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It's Sportsball Sunday! Look, I understand football rules for the most part, I just don't particularly care about it (sorry sportsbally friends and family). I do, however, know that cheese and beer go hand-in-hand with sportsball. I assume that beer cheese soup was invented by a sports fan. I've done zero research to confirm or disprove this theory. In any event, this is a nice hearty soup for fall and winter nights. It is by no means a healthy soup, though, even veganized. I swear we do have some healthier recipes floating around in our family. Maybe they'll surface in Detoxtober. Oh, and I'm finally out of butter. Thank the heavens.

Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup flour
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 1/2 non-dairy cream (I used full-fat coconut milk)
  • 16 ounce jar of vegan cheese (I used a vegan queso)
  • 1 tbsp vegan Worcestershire sauce

  • 6 ounces beer
  • Dash of garlic salt, dry mustard, paprika, salt
  • Optional: 1/2 tsp yellow food coloring (if you want neon yellow soup)
  • Optional: 1/2 cup chives
Instructions:
Melt the butter. Add flour and heat mixture on low for 5 minutes. Gradually add the vegetable broth. Add the cream (or coconut milk) and stir until smooth. Then add the vegan cheese and stir until melted. Add the remaining ingredients and simmer on low for 15 minutes. Garnish with chives and serve with vegan croutons, oyster crackers, or popcorn (Popcorn? Really, mom?). Serve soon after making it since it thickens up quite a bit the longer it sits..or use it as a dip.

Servings: 8
If I had more tech skills and was more embarrassed by publicizing how messy our kitchen is, I'd create a program that automatically photoshops the mess out of the background of pictures.
Stir really well when adding the broth or you might end up with some dumplings. Or don't stir well if you want the dumplings.
Goal! Touchdown? Whatever. Sportsball!
 
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Are you sick of sugar yet? Well, too bad. DONUTS. I challenge you to find even the most stubborn of omnivores that won't eat a vegan donut. Vegan donuts: the ultimate weapon in vegan activism. I used a basic vegan donut recipe (say what you will about PETA, they have some good recipes) and turned them into balls instead of regular-shaped donuts. We always had store-bought, most likely deep fried, donut balls on hand for weekend treats. I'm fairly certain that these are 100 times healthier. This recipe gave me an excuse to finally use this contraption! It's probably for cake pops...but it works.

Lock 'em in and bake (after drowning the pan in PAM).
Pre-blorp.
Post-blorp.
You could also make these into little Saturns if you want to get creative by leaving the little ring around the middle. Do kids these days still make solar system dioramas? If so, donut dioramas need to be a thing.

I dipped the balls in a little bit of almond milk and then rolled them in a cinnamon and brown sugar mixture. In an effort to not subject my co-workers to another cinnamon challenge (eating 1 tbsp of cinnamon in under 60 seconds with no water--DO NOT ATTEMPT) like yesterday's elephant ears, I bounced them after covering them in the mixture. Turns out these little suckers are quite bouncy and we had a few floor casualties.
If you're starting to look like this, maybe cut back on the sugar intake. Only a few days until Detoxtober.
 
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Elephant ears were our special "we have company" weekend breakfast treat from the grocery store. We never actually made homemade elephant ears. Rather than re-invent the sugar wheel, I followed the recipe (!) from A Profound Hatred of Meat. Pepperidge Farm apparently makes a vegan puff pastry if you want to bypass the dough step (no judgment here).

These started out as just regular vegan elephant ears, but someone got a little overzealous with the cinnamon and now they're basically 50% cinnamon. FYI the floor and my shirt (and let's be real, probably my hair) match them. Sometimes baking is a battle.

Assemble your dough ball armada. The recipe says to make them golf ball size, but to get 12-13 dough balls, shoot more for golf balls on steroids.
Ideally elephant ears should be pretty flat and light (if your goal is to mimic the store-bought ones). My first try turned out fat and scorched. It's kind of like feeding the water gods in golf. For those unfamiliar with the practice, you chuck a crappy ball in the water to prevent your first shot from going straight into the water trap. Well, I'm importing that strategy to baking. From now on I'm feeding the baking gods. They get the first disastrous attempt; I get the rest.
Elephant ears: for mornings when coffee just isn't enough.
 
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Alright. You can't have your wedding anniversary land on the fall equinox and not do something fall-ish. Since our first year of marriage was a bit exhausting (new jobs, new house, new dog), we haven't done the big honeymoon thing yet. We did take a few days off after the wedding to recoup at a bed and breakfast in northern Minnesota. To celebrate our anniversary, we went apple picking at a local orchard. Just in time to make my mom's apple pie recipe for Vegan MoFo! We always had dozens of these pies stashed in the freezer for my grandpa.

I'm not 100% sure where we're looking in this photo, but as a habitual blinker, I won't complain about an aiming mishap.
Ingredients:
Pie Crust
  • 1 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/3 cup non-dairy milk (optional 1 Vegg yolk)
Apple Filling
  • 5 cups apples (peeled and thinly sliced)
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp butter                                              
Instructions:
For the pie crust, mix all the ingredients and divide in half. Roll out one half for the bottom crust. Feel free to make the crust look more presentable than this (and yes, this was my SECOND try at rolling the crust out).
For the filling, combine sugar, flour, spices, and lemon juice. Add the apples and thoroughly coat them in the mixture. Wet your hands and press the apples down into the pie dish. Take room temperature butter and rub it on top of the apples (I'm really starting to feel like the vegan Paula Deen this month). With the remaining crust, fold it in half and make knife marks down the middle (so they look like Vs when it's unfolded). Pinch the crusts together and line the edges with aluminum foil.
Bake for 15 minutes at 400 degrees and then another 45 minutes at 350 degrees.
I will take a fresh apple pie over old cake any day.
 
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Happy old, frozen cake day to us (today is our first wedding anniversary)! Since our anniversary falls during Vegan MoFo, I thought I would take the opportunity to reflect on our (mostly) vegan wedding. I say mostly vegan because while the food was vegan, my dress might not have been. I picked it out very shortly after becoming vegan and before learning more about avoiding animal products in clothing. I did have vegan shoes, though. Why spend $300 on fancy heels that'll hurt like hell after 5 minutes when you could get $15 lime green vegan flats from LuLu's? I opted to be able to walk.

Wedding planning seems to make everyone a little...squirrelly, even otherwise rational, calm people. We were lucky. Our wedding was relatively drama-free. Really the only hurdle was the food.  Dan and I were both raised on the typical American diet and most of our extended families still eat that way. Unsurprisingly, we experienced some moderate push-back on our proposed vegan menu.
Doing something because it was expected in a particular social situation has never been a big motivator for me. I needed a much better reason than "it's just what you do" or "it's what people expect" to have animal products served at our wedding. I don't think that our wedding day would've been any more special for our guests had we served them a slab of meat. It would have, however, put a damper on the day for me, knowing that our wedding contributed to animal suffering. Not financially contributing to the animal agriculture industry is at the heart of ethical veganism. Anyone who has planned or participated in a wedding can attest to the fact that most weddings are not cheap (although there are certainly ways to have a totally reasonable wedding without promising your first-born and a kidney in exchange for the perfect venue, caterer, etc.). Avoiding animal products in our personal lives while allowing them to be served as the centerpiece for a 100+ person event seemed like a serious gap in values.

We ended up making our case for vegan food. To be fair, it's not like we were proposing a wheatgrass bar (no offense to anyone who likes wheatgrass, but you could achieve the same taste by mowing the lawn with your mouth open). The staff at the resort where the reception was held near Detroit Lakes, MN was lovely. They let us pick the recipes and bring Daiya from Minneapolis so we could show that good, meltable vegan cheese existed. They even unexpectedly made us an awesome tofu quiche with the leftover Daiya the next morning!
I still don't believe that we somehow disrespected our guests by not serving them meat. As vegans, we don't have control over food options in a lot of social situations. Your own wedding shouldn't be one of them.
And guess what? As far as I know, everyone liked the food (gasp) or were at least polite enough to not complain to my face. For entrees, we served the Lasagna with Basil Cashew Cheeze from Oh She Glows (one of my all-time favorite sites) and a simple butternut squash risotto. As a side, we served roasted carrots, parsnips, and shallots. With these simple recipes, we were able to accommodate ourselves (obviously) and guests with gluten, nut, and MSG allergies. For dessert, we had vanilla and chocolate cupcakes from Isa Chandra Moskowitz's Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. Our small wedding cake was made using the vanilla cupcake recipe.
I think the whole wedding process is best summed up by the many faces of my dad.
Every wedding is a reflection of the couple's values.  Family dynamics and social expectations can make a vegan wedding a little tricky, but it's worth it in the end.
 
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Bread and I are not friends. We're barely acquaintances. My crowning achievement in the bread baking realm to date is making a loaf that looked like a butt (bread maker + wrong setting = butt loaf). All butts aside (it's been a long week, just give me this one), I thought I would take a shot at the cinnamon bread my mom used to make when I was younger. And now for the caveats: I used a quick, rather than yeast, bread recipe from 500 Vegan Recipes. The ideal way to make this recipe, though, is with yeast bread, which allows you to actually make the cinnamon swirl. Since I used a quick bread recipe, my swirl is more of an explosion.

So now that you know what I did, here's what you should do.
Instructions:
Prepare a basic yeast bread recipe and roll the dough out. Mix cinnamon, brown sugar, and Earth Balance butter together. This mixture should be thin enough to spread over the bread dough but thick enough to not run everywhere. Once the cinnamon mixture is spread over the dough, roll it up. Now for the really healthy part: mix more butter and cinnamon together and drizzle it on the bottom of a bread pan before putting in the dough. If you really want to kill any illusions of this being healthy, cover the bottom of the pan in ice cream and cinnamon instead. Rub some room temperature butter on the top of the loaf and sprinkle with cinnamon. While you're at it, just eat a stick of butter on the side. Bake for however long your particular yeast bread recipe calls for. If done properly, when the loaf is cut into slices you'll end up with a fancy little cinnamon swirl on each slice!
Random Friday night cat in a box. Because what else do you do with 2 gigabytes of cat pictures on a phone (other than feel embarrassed)?
 
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I've always said that if I ever stumbled into actually opening a vegan bakery (just what my 3 years of law school trained me for! Oh, wait...), Dan would have to be in charge of food photography. If you want it to turn out pretty? Have Dan do it. If you want to eat it in the foreseeable ever? I'll do it, but it might be a little homely. For example? This thing. Super fast, not so pretty.

In my incredibly brief search for Special K cereal at the grocery store last night, I didn't spot any vegan kinds, so I grabbed the closest thing I could find. Thus, these are Special K-ish bars. They should turn out just fine with any cereal that approximates Special K. Plus the cereal is hidden under a layer of chocolate, so I seriously doubt that anyone will (a) notice or (b) care that the Special K is missing from the Special K bars. We'll see if anyone notices that there's dried fruit hiding in mine. * shifty eyes *

Ingredients:
5 cups Special K-ish cereal
2/3 cup corn syrup
2/3 cup white sugar
1 1/2 tbsp Earth Balance butter
1 cup peanut butter
1 package chocolate chips (or 1/2 package chocolate chips and 1/2 package butterscotch chips if you want to be fancy)
Instructions:
Bring syrup, sugar, and butter to a boil. Turn heat to low and add peanut butter and cereal (or transfer to a mixing bowl). Spread mixture in a 9 x 13 pan. Melt the chocolate chips and spread over the cereal mixture.
Running a little low on energy and/or ambition? Special K-ish bars to the rescuezzz.
 
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I swear I'm almost out of cookie recipes. After yesterday's daffodil cake disaster, I needed an idiot-proof recipe. It's like in dog training, when your pup is getting frustrated, you gotta get his confidence back up with an easy command he knows. Well, this is my baking equivalent of "sit." (We're in the middle of a dog training course, can you tell?) These are super simple. If you're also coming off of a daffodil cake disaster, feel free to just eat the dough and bypass the potential pitfalls of baking them.

Ingredients:
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 2 flax eggs* with one tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup Earth Balance margarine
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • Enough flour to make soft dough (I used about 2 cups)
    *3 tbsp warm water + 1 tbsp ground flax = 1 flax egg
Instructions:
Roll dough into small balls, and press down with a fork. Bake 10-12 minutes at 350 degrees.

See? Idiot-proof.
Happy Monday, everyone.

    About Me

    Hello and welcome! My name is Megan. I'm an ethical vegan and an admittedly less-than-tidy baker. As a North Dakota/Minnesota native, my goal is to make delicious vegan food that friends, relatives, and unsuspecting strangers will enjoy.

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