Donuts for Valentines

These little lovelies are fun, easy, and from Chef Chloe’s cookbook.  (She also breaks it down in a video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nbeUJUMxbFs.)  I had one regular size and one mini donut pan on hand so we did a little bit of both!  My girls and I had fun frosting and adding sprinkles and shredded coconut!

Little Star Birthday Cake

My little one wanted a “telescope cake” for her fourth birthday.  This is what I came up with—-the icing drawing of the telescope turned out okay but I am especially proud of my chocolate ganache (just chocolate chips, soy milk, and syrup) sky.  The chocolate cake recipe is straight from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World (triple the recipe to make a double layer cake.)  You can also see my awesome husband’s asteroid/planet pinata (before it was hung up) in the background. 

Vegan Thanksgiving

We had thanksgiving dinner down in Southern California at Oma and Opa’s this year.  I didn’t make a thing (but I certainly did eat a lot.)  AND it was all vegan!  Tofurkey has certainly grown on me, Morgan’s mushroom gravy was rockin’ and I HAD to get Oma’s recipe for the mashed yams—apparently she just roasts, and then mashes with Earth’s Balance and a little brownsugar—super easy.  Maybe I’ll try to duplicate in another post…

Whole Lotta Squash Soup

             I still had several types of winter squash sitting around from my CSA share, so I decided to just make a quick and hearty soup out of them.  I had a large acorn, two buttercups, and a delicata that I roasted first.  As you would do with all types of squash, cut each in half, spoon out the seeds, drizzle with a little olive oil all over, and place face down on a baking sheet to cook for 30 to 40 minutes.  Saute up some onion and garlic in a large pot and then throw in your squash, veggie broth, curry powder to your liking (I like a lot), and salt.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and add a little agave.  Transfer in batches to your ninja blender to create a smooth texture.  (Or leave some un-blended for a chunkier soup.)  Add salt if needed. Yum. 

Peppermint Bark

                I recently stumbled upon a great blog called “Chocolate Covered Katie” and decided to make her recipe for peppermint bark.  She uses coconut butter for the base and I pretty much just did exactly what she suggests here: http://chocolatecoveredkatie.com/2011/12/15/candyland-peppermint-bark/

Homemade Granola Bars

I should really just call these chocolate chips bars because my kids talked me into dumping so many chocolate chips into the mix that they were quite chocolatey!

Pumpkin Party Potluck

Each year my family holds a pumpkin carve and potluck event.  And this year I made the following dishes:

Spider Web Bean Dip: You could really layer this easy bean dip any way that you’d like, though I think the guacamole on top, because of the green color, adds that “spooky” angle.  I layered refried beans, then salsa, then guac, framed the dip with cut tomatoes, and then using a zip-loc baggie with a small hole cut out of one of the corners, piped on vegan sour cream to look like a spider web.  Finished it off with a plastic spider!

Pumpkin Shaped Chocolate Cake: My three year old really wanted a pumpkin-shaped chocolate cake this year.  So this is what I came up.  I made the chocolate cake recipe from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World in a bundt pan and stuck a small cup in the middle to creat the stem.  Frosting is just non-hydrogenated shortening and Earth Balance, mixed with confectioners sugar, a little vanilla, and soy creamer.  At the party, it was gone pretty fast.

And finally, I whipped up my standard Blackberry Pie from the blackberries that my girls picked themselves.  (The girls also had fun turning the mandarin oranges into jack-o-lanterns!)

Chocolate Cake with Secret Ingredient!

Due to our wonderful weekly CSA farm share, we have ended up with an amazing amount of beets!  Personally, I love roasting beets with a little olive oil and salt and pepper, but you can only eat soooo many roasted beets.  So, I decided to throw some in a chocolate cake and see what happened.  The result was a very dense, almost torte-like baked good.  I topped it off with an easy-peasy ganache and my kids, husband, and coworkers were never aware that it had a vegetable hiding inside! 

Ingredients:

5 medium-sized beets
1/2 cup canaola oil
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Ganache: 
2 cups chocolate chips + 1/2 cup soy milk/creamer

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour a baking pan.   These will come out more dense like brownies, so a bigger round or square/rectangular pan is best.  You want to either boil or steam your beets to get them nice and soft.  I just used my rice cooker (with a good amount of water) to achieve this.  Puree beets in a food processor or blender with a little bit of water.  Add the oil, sugar and vanilla, and blend again.  Mix together remaining ingredients in a bowl.  Add beet mixture and stir well.  Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 35 minutes.  While it’s cooling, melt your chocolate chips and soymilk over low heat to melt and mix together.  Then pour ganache over cake.  It looks pretty and I swear, you’ll never even taste the beets in there!

NINJA BLENDER HAS COME INTO MY LIFE!

So, I looked around for the perfect, not-so-expensive blender and decided to order myself up the Ninja Professional.  It does not come as highly recommended as the Vitamix, (nor is it anywhere near as $$$) but boy, does it do the trick.  I do a lot of blending of various nuts, so I was in need of a good bull-of-a-blender.  Finally, the ninja has come into my life.  Made the alfredo recipe from Chloe Coscarelli’s new cookbook and it was divine!

Coconut Lime Cupcakes

If you LOVE coconut and you LOVE lime you will LOVE these cupcakes.  I made these babies for my friend’s 40th birthday party.  They are copied exactly from the Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World book and Morgan and I both agree that they are our new favorite cupcakes.  Wowza.