Mom-certified: "You always make such a mess when you cook"
So I clearly fell off the MoFo wagon. I knew going into September that it was going to be a long shot to keep up. But denial was my buddy...until I hit the week where the only time I had to get a very overdue oil change was at 6:30 a.m. Going forward I'll be doing a diet version of Vegan MoFo (i.e. posting as my schedule this month permits). Before my schedule totally fell apart, I had time to make some decadent caramel bars. This recipe is courtesy of my friend Natalie, who instructed me to "do them justice." I'm going to go ahead and say I did because (1) they were good and (2) she wasn't here to tell me I did it wrong.

Ethique Nouveau, a 100% vegan store in Minneapolis, carries Cocomels, which are fantastic.

  • 3/4 cup melted butter
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup oatmeal
  • 3/4 brown sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 40 caramels (these will take forever to unwrap)

  • 3 tbsp cream (I used plain coconut creamer, which seemed to work fine)
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 6 ounces chocolate chips
  • Optional: 3/4 cup chopped nuts
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and unwrap caramels until the end of time. Mix the butter, flour, oatmeal, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt. Press 3/4 of the mixture on the bottom of a 9 x 13 pan and bake for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, melt the caramels, cream, and butter. Once the crust is done, pour the caramel mixture over the crust. Sprinkle the chocolate chips and nuts over the caramel mixture and add the remaining crumbs. Bake for 15 minutes.

Enjoy your sugar rush...
...and eventual crash.
Between work, other commitments, and an energetic Lab (who I'm pretty sure would play fetch until passing out), there isn't much time left for baking on weekdays. Solution? A four-ingredient recipe. These bars are super fast and basically impossible to mess up (disclaimer: this is not a guarantee)

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup organic brown sugar
  • 1 cup unbleached all purpose flour
  • 4-5 vegan chocolate bars broken up or 6-8 ounces vegan chocolate chips
Mix the ingredients and pat into a 9 x 12 or 9 x 13 pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes. While the crust is still warm, spread the chocolate over the crust using a spatula. Optional: sprinkle with finely chopped nuts (or mostly whole almonds if your hammering skills are subpar). Allow to cool and then serve.
Even after making these, there's still plenty of time left for fetch! I mean, how do you say no to that face?
Something something pumpkin something something apple cider. I refuse to acknowledge that it's the beginning of fall. In the spirit of denial, this recipe features my favorite summer fruit: cherries! Don't get me wrong, I actually like the pumpkin overload season by itself. But living in the Midwest, fall comes with a lot of baggage. While Jack looks quite dapper in a sweater, I'm just not ready to face winter yet.

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 3 tbsp powdered sugar
  • 2 flax eggs (1 egg =1 tbsp ground flax mixed in 3 tbsp warm water)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup flour

  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3/4 chopped nuts
  • 1/2 cup coconut (I used oatmeal due to lack of planning)
  • 1/2 cup cherries (I used frozen)
Mix the first three ingredients and pat them into a 9 x 13 pan. Bake for 20 minutes at 350 degrees. Mix the remaining ingredients and spread them over the first layer and bake another 20-25 minutes. Optional: drizzle melted chocolate over the bars.
I like two seasons: summer and Christmas. Since it's not acceptable to bust out Christmas paraphernalia yet, summery foods will have to do.
You betcha it's time for another Vegan MoFo! Things got a little crazy the last few months (read: I way overscheduled myself) so I haven't posted in a while. No time like the MoFo to get back into the swing of things.

My theme for this year is Coffee & Bars (said in the style of Drop Dead Gorgeous). If you haven't watched it, seriously get on that. You're only 15 years behind schedule.
I'll be focusing primarily on bars, with a few coffee-infused baked goods rounding out the list.
Rochester Bars:
First up are Rochester Bars. They probably have some other official name. Nobody in my family knew what they were called (and presumably brown blobs didn't sound appealing), so my cousin dubbed them "Rochester Bars,'' since that's where we lived at the time. They're ridiculously easy to make, which is basically my unofficial subtheme for this year.
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2/3 cup non-dairy milk
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup cocoa
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3 cups oatmeal (I used instant because that's what we had on hand but old fashioned oats should work fine too).
  • 1 cup coconut flakes
Combine all ingredients except the oatmeal and coconut and bring to a boil for 5 minutes. Then stir in oatmeal and coconut. Drop large spoonfuls on wax paper and refrigerate. Optional: sprinkle with coconut flakes.
My clean-up crew is ready for another MoFo (no he didn't get any).
So I'm clearly starting 2014 off on top of things. Happy belated new year? As it turns out, wrangling two dogs, one whom is relatively fresh out of a puppy mill, takes up a lot of time. Since my "baking" exploits from the past month and a half consisted mostly of oatmeal and handfuls of chocolate chips, I didn't bother blogging about them. You're welcome. As we are whittling down the time it takes to coax Whitney out of her safe room hopefully I'll have some time to bake again.

Over Christmas, I hit the family recipe jackpot (read: I riffled through all 5 (!) of my Grandma's recipe boxes and grabbed the recipes labeled "very good!").
My plan for the rest of this seemingly never ending winter is to bake my way through the stack until the weather knocks it off. As long as the weather insists on oscillating between cursing-inducing temperatures and snow creating hellish commutes, I'll just spend as much time by the oven as I can.

Since I'm a bit out of practice (and energy), I started with one of the easiest recipes to get back in the swing of things: pineapple carrot bread. It sounds and looks like a weird combination but holy hell is it good. It might also be a good way to sneak in vegetables for a picky eater.
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 3 flax eggs (3 tbsp warm water + 1 tbsp ground flax = 1 egg)

  • 1 8 ounce can crushed pineapples
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup grated carrots
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
Combine the dry ingredients and then mix them with the remaining ingredients. Bake at 350 degrees for an hour (or until a knife comes out clean).
Be prepared for a potential dough explosion.
As with just about everything I make, it tasted way more delicious than it looked.
As for your Whitney update, she's settling in nicely and starting to come of her shell quite a bit! I know getting a dog to jump into a car on her own might not sound like a triumphant victory, but 60 pounds of scared dog is a lot to move if she isn't helping. I'll take any signs of progress at this point :)
Messy vegan kitchen is on the road this week! This recipe is brought to you from my mom's now messy vegan kitchen. When looking through holiday recipes, we ran across my great great aunt's fruitcake recipe. Fruitcake does not have a good reputation. For example, my mom's mom used fruitcake as a door stop. In college, we threw fruitcakes off the 8th floor of our dorm and they DID NOT BREAK. Merry Christmas, here's a chipped tooth. Thankfully this recipe yields a nice, moist cake that I'm fairly certain wouldn't survive an 8-story fall. As a bonus, you can basically throw in whatever you've got sitting around the kitchen since it's kind of an inherently ugly cake to begin with.

  • 1/2 cup Earth Balance margarine
  • 1 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 flax egg*
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp cloves
*1 flax egg = 3 tbsp warm water + 1 tbsp ground flax seed

  • 1/2 tsp allspice
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 2 cup dates
  • 1 cup raisins (or more dates)
  • 1 cup pecans
  • 2 cups green candied cherries
  • 2 cups red candied cherries
  • 2 cups candied pineapple
Heat margarine and apple sauce together until margarine is melted. Let it sit until cool and thick. Meanwhile, mix together everything from flour on down the list. Then add the flax egg and the sugar to the apple sauce/margarine mixture and mix everything together. Finally, add 1 tsp of baking soda dissolved in 1/4 cup hot water to the mixture. Bake in a bundt pan (if you have one) slightly below 300 degrees for 1 hour 45 minutes.
It's like a bowl of Lucky Charms that went bad.
The removal process went as expected (poorly).
The emergency reconstruction crew hard at work.
2013 in review, ornament style.
 Christmas is one of my favorite seasons (despite my increasing hatred of winter), yet somehow it sneaks up on me every damn year. I had high hopes for the first Christmas season in our house: elaborate decorations, baking projects,  gifts bought and wrapped well ahead of time. Instead, we have a few gifts with chomped-on bows (thank you, cats), an ignored baking blog, and outside lights that look like this...

Can you tell where we just gave up?

It's been a hella busy month and I'm way behind on basically everything. Here's a smattering of the food happenings the last few weeks (scroll to the bottom for the spritz cookies recipe).

We ended up hosting a small Thanksgiving at our house, so we got to have a 100% vegan Thanksgiving!
Our main dish was Isa's seitan roast stuffed with mushrooms and leeks. The other highlights were biscuits from Chloe Coscarelli and Isa's  butternut squash and kale salad.
Surprise Party
The Saturday after Thanksgiving we threw a surprise anniversary/birthday party for my parents. It was Hawaiian-themed since it's been 30 years and they just haven't quite gotten around to that Hawaiian honeymoon yet. You know, no rush.
Here they are seeing my grandparents (who live 2.5 hours away) sitting at the table:
And seeing the other 20 some people pile out of the dining room like a clown car/realizing what's happening/my dad backing away because he thought it was just a birthday party for my mom and that he was off the hook (no such luck):
It was an exhausting weekend...for everyone.
Grandma's Christmas Spritz Cookies
I finally got around to some Christmas baking today. My grandma's spritz cookies make an appearance every Christmas. She always made these with a spritz/cookie maker, but I'm sure they'd be just as good in un-shaped blob form.
1 cup Earth Balance butter or shortening
1 cup unsifted powdered sugar
1 Egg-Replacer egg

1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

Cream shortening and sugar. Sift the flour and baking powder and add it to the sugar/shortening mix. Place the dough in the refrigerator until chilled. Fill a cookie maker and form cookies. You can color some dough if you want a swirled look. Bake them at 375 degrees for 8-10 minutes.

The first few attempts might be a little...blobbish.
And because we aren't quite busy enough, after we get back from Christmas festivities, we'll be adding another furball into the mix. Introducing Whitney! She is a complete sweetheart but very, very shy as she was rescued from a puppy mill.
More updates on Whitney next year!
T minus 3 days until Thanksgiving. Hopefully everyone's got their menus prepped, but just in case, more pie! I don't remember a Thanksgiving where we only had one type of pie. Since custard pie is my dad's favorite, he'll get the final say on how it compares to the original (and also because I spaced on what the original tastes like). My first attempt at veganizing this recipe yielded a very lovely custard soup served in a pie crust, so I had to up the tofu. Do not fear the tofu. I promise nobody will even notice it.

Custard Ingredients:
  • Nutmeg
  • 12 ounces firm tofu (shh)
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups non-dairy milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tbsp corn starch
Pie Crust
Blend all custard ingredients together except for the nutmeg.
Pour the custard mix into the pie crust and sprinkle generously with nutmeg before baking. Bake at 425 degrees for 10 minutes and 325 degrees for 40 minutes (or until the custard is set). Let set until cool and then serve.
I've given up on trying to roll out crusts. The rolling pin is for decoration only (and occasionally a false sense of security when Dan is gone). Otherwise it's dead to me.
The custard will still be a little jiggly after it's cooled. You should be able to cut a piece without the custard flooding everywhere, though.
So I ran across this today on CNN: "Yes, there's a Butterball shortage; no, you do not need to panic." I agree. Don't panic. Also you don't need to eat turkey. See? Imaginary problem solved. You're welcome, CNN. But seriously, the internet is exploding right now with vegan centerpieces so fabulous that no one will miss a dead turkey on the table.
    Every year for Thanksgiving my mom made my grandma's stuffing recipe.
I never understood the appeal of stuffing growing up. It is not an attractive food. But, it continues to make the short list for traditional Thanksgiving foods and I'm slowly warming up to it. I paired the stuffing with a nice, easy lentil loaf. FYI, this recipe makes enough stuffing to fill about eight loaves, so you'll have plenty left over stuffing if you're only making one loaf.

Lentil Loaf (I substituted flour for the wheat germ)
Stuffing Ingredients:
  • 2 loaves of bread dried out over night (for the slackers out there, Whole Foods sells bags of bread already dried out)
  • 4-5 onions diced
  • 6-7 stalks of celery diced
  • 2 tsp powdered vegetable bouillon per cup of water
  • 4-5 ounces firm tofu
  • 2 tbsp sage
  • Garlic and onion powder to taste (optional)
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Break bread into 1 inch chunks and place them in a very large mixing bowl. In a large pot, add onions, celery, and bouillon to roughly 2 quarts of water and cook until they're tender. In a food processor,
combine the tofu and a little bit of water until it's pureed. Slowly add the liquid mixture to the bread crumbs. Add the tofu and mix thoroughly. Add the sage, salt, and pepper. Pour the mixture into a baking dish (don't fill it too full as it will likely puff up in the oven) and bake for 90 minutes.
Make a crater for the stuffing.
Fill it up.
And slap on the cap.
Garnish with parsley and nutritional yeast (optional).
It's a really tasty dish and looks quite presentable while in loaf form. I make no guarantees on its attractiveness beyond that point.
Thanksgiving is right around the corner! Generally I hate changing traditions (I wasn't joking about being a curmudgeon), but some traditions are worth modifying. I grew up with the traditional Thanksgiving meal: turkey, corn, mashed potatoes, pumpkin pie, and a sweet potato casserole that nobody ever wanted to actually eat but we had to keep making in order to taunt the youngest cousin or newest significant other who got stuck watching the marshmallows which inevitably burned. To be honest, I never really got very excited about the traditional meal. What I did get excited about was spending time with family and making a massive mess in the kitchen, neither of which has been impacted by having vegan food.

So for the next few weeks I'll be throwing out some ideas for compassionate Thanksgiving centerpieces, a few side dishes, and desserts. To start off, pumpkin pie! Aside from the unfortunate turkey, pumpkin pie comes in as a close second for the quintessential traditional Thanksgiving food (although I discovered a co-worker today who had never had pumpkin pie...and then thought it tasted like baby food. words).

Sorry this post is a bit late but I was contending with this over the weekend:

30 30 gallon bags later and I'm still not done with just the front yard. I'm really starting to rethink the whole "I want a house with a lot trees" thing.
Pie Crust
Pumpkin Pie Filling
  • 1 15 ounce can pumpkin
  • 2 flax eggs*
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 tsp all spice
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  •  6 ounces coconut milk (plus enough almond milk to make 1 cup) 
Mix all ingredients. Pour the pie filling into the pie crust and cover the edges of the crust with tin foil. Bake at 425 degrees for 10 minutes, then 325 degrees for 50 minutes.
*3 tbsp warm water + 1 tbsp ground flax seed = 1 flag egg
This recipe is designed to make one pumpkin pie, but I decided to make some mini pies instead (we've all seen how successful I am at rolling out one big crust...)
Fill 'em up and bake!
Turkeys are still a part of my Thanksgiving tradition, but they certainly aren't on the table. Consider sponsoring a turkey instead of eating one this year. Places like Farm Sanctuary in New York and California and Heartland Farm Sanctuary in Wisconsin have several turkeys you can sponsor for a one-time or monthly donation. New traditions need to start somewhere, so why not make it a happy turkey day for some actual turkeys?

    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.


    September 2013
    August 2013