Vegan Tuscan Lemon Cake

Several weeks before I had my baby, my sister decided she would host Easter so family could gather and meet her. Around that time I came across this recipe for Betty Crocker’s lemon cake, veganized by a couple who went through Betty’s whole book and veganized it, posting recipes to their blog Meet the Shannons. They also published them in their debut cookbook Betty Goes Vegan. As much as I’m trying not to buy cookbooks, I really think I need this one.

Everyone told me just to bring the baby and nothing else but, well, I don’t really know how to do that. And the more I get submerged in the all-consuming schedule of a new mom the more I wanted to make it happen — bake a cake! Like I used to! Or maybe would have!

It has basic ingredients, all of which I had on hand, so I went for it. Besides, I really wanted to use that bundt pan I just HAD to register for when we got married almost two years ago and still haven’t used. So, I did it. “Wait, WHY are you making a cake?” I got on Easter morning when my husband woke up, thinking I already would be en route to my sister’s for those who had asked for extra baby time before the masses arrived. Oops. If the last five weeks are any indication, I may not be “on time” (yes, in quotes as it’s relative) for the next several years if you invite me somewhere.

As I was running late, there are no pictures. Well, that, and it was ugly. Though I generously sprayed my pan, I couldn’t wait for it to cool completely and the nice golden brown outer layer stuck to the pan upon removing it. I also REALLY wanted to put it on the lovely vintage cake stand my mother-in-law got me at my baby shower, but it was the exact size as the stand. That doesn’t really work — especially when there’s glaze involved. I made a mess, had to transport it to a bigger pan and it started to fall apart. It wasn’t pretty.

And the lemon glaze? Well, you have to keep it warm to pour it on when the cake is cooled a bit and I made it before I showered. So, but the time I poured it, it wasn’t the nice lemon yellow color displayed on the Shannons’ blog, but more of a golden brown. That’s OK though. I thought it turned out delicious and, as much as I hate to say it, it’s super moist without being too dense. It got rave reviews from the small group that passed up my mom’s (non-vegan) coconut cream and cherry pies (I don’t blame anyone for choosing those however. All of her pies really are the best). This was really fast and easy to make though — I’ll be revisiting this recipe for sure.

My window of sleeping baby is closing. Better get to it!

Cake Ingredients
• 1 1/2 c. sugar
• 1/2 c. Earth Balance (non-dairy margarine)
• 1 Tbsp. applesauce
• 1 Tbsp. Ener-G Egg Replacer  powder
• 2 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
• 1 tsp. baking soda
• 1 tsp. salt
• 1 14.5 oz can coconut milk (I went with full fat)
• 2 Tbsp. lemon zest
• 3 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
• baking spray for the bundt pan

Glaze Ingredients
• 2 c. powdered sugar
• 1/4 c. Earth Balance
• 2 Tbsp. lemon zest
• 1/4 c. fresh lemon juice

From Meet the Shannons:

Heat oven to 325.

In a large bowl, blend your Sugar and Margarine with a hand held electric mixer on a high setting until it is smooth and fluffy. Then blend in Applesauce and Ener-G Egg Replacer.

In another bowl, mix Flour, Baking Soda and Salt with a whisk until completely blended. Then add the Flour mix to the Margarine mix a little at a time – alternating with Coconut Milk. Each time you add some Flour or Coconut Milk, use your mixer to blend it in completely. Once your Flour and Coconut Milk are completely blended in add your Lemon Zest and Lemon Juice and blend on a medium setting for 2-3 minutes. You want your batter to be fluffy and smooth.

Spray a fluted tube cake pan with Baking Spray. Then pour your Batter into the pan evenly. Use a spatula to spread it out to make a nice even layer. It’s important to make sure the Batter is even because the cake will be sitting with the rimmed ring on top. So if you see any ridges or clumps be sure and smooth them out now.

Put in the oven and bake for 45-50 minutes. Now not every fluted cake pan is the same and some are deeper than others. So start checking on your cake at around 30 minutes. Use a bamboo skewer to test if your cake is done. If you can poke the bamboo skewer in a few times and remove it cleanly. You’re done. (Note: Mine took 60 minutes. It didn’t look done even then, but I poked it with the skewer and sure enough it was done!)

While your cake is baking, make your glaze. In a saucepan, melt your Margarine on a low heat. Once your Margarine is melted, use a whisk to blend in your Powdered Sugar. Then blend in Lemon Zezt and Lemon Juice. The glaze is pretty sweet. If you taste it and are like this is too sweet for you – just add a little more melted Margarine and Lemon Zest until you get the flavor you like. You’re going to want to keep your glaze warm till you drizzle it over the top.

Pull the cake out once it is fully baked and immediately poke your cake several more times – like 15 times with the bamboo skewer. You only want to go in about as deep as a fork would go. You’re releasing moisture from the cake to help it cool and also release from the pan. Let your cake cool for 20 minutes and then turn your cake pan upside down on a large serving dish. (It had been at least 30 by the time I did this, but the cake still stuck to my non-stick, heavily-sprayed pan. I think it would have come out perfectly if I had let it cool completely).

Now drizzle the warm glaze over the top and let your cake cool. In the springtime – it’s nice to decorate lemon cakes with edible flowers. I couldn’t find any this time. Pity.

Quick Chickpea Tikka Masala

chickpeamasala

In a continued effort to utilize the many magazines I get, I decided to make this version of chickpea masala out of the latest issue of Vegetarian Times. From first cut to eating it was about 45 minutes — I’ll definitely make this again! It’s really close to another version I’ve been making for years (which you can find HERE in this 2010 post). The main difference is the lack of cauliflower here, which makes this even more of a pantry recipe. The only fresh ingredients you need are an onion, ginger (which you could keep jarred in the fridge for when you’re in a pinch) and a serrano pepper (which technically you could do without — it just wouldn’t be spicy).

I only changed up a couple of things — I threw in a whole onion because I knew the other half would go to waste and I used two serrano peppers to spice it up a bit (I like things spicy these days and hey — at 38 weeks pregnant if it helps move things along…). I don’t have Greek yogurt around — and would rather keep it vegan anyway — so I didn’t use that. In the other version, I use coconut milk so I would gladly add that or coconut creamer in the future, but went without tonight.

I started my brown rice, made the rest of the recipe and by the time it came to the  “simmer for 15 minutes” part, there was about that long left on the rice — perfect! I cleaned up and before I knew it — dinner was served.

Here it is!

Ingredients
• 1 Tbsp. oil
• 1/2 medium onion, diced
• 1 Tbsp. garam masala (I might add a bit more next time…. or my extra peppers might be overpowering the spices in the recipe…)
• 1 Tbsp. tomato paste
• 2 tsp. grated ginger
• 1 serrano chile, minced
• salt
• 2 15-0z. cans chickpeas, drained and rinse
• 1 28-0z. can crushed tomatoes
• 1/2 c. Greek yogurt (or I’d say 1/4 c. coconut creamer or milk, or more to taste)
• 1/4 c. chopped cilantro

1. Heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and sauté 5 minutes or until softened.

2. Add garam masala, tomato paste, ginger and serrano, and season with a bit of salt to taste. Sauté one minute more.

3. Stir in chickpeas and tomatoes. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 15 minutes.

4. Remove from heat and stir in yogurt and cilantro.

Easy Vegan Coconut Cream Pie

coconut cream pie

Though we usually don’t do a whole lot for Valentine’s Day, this year we are counting down our “free” pre-baby weekends and made dinner plans for Saturday night. We ended up going to Detroit’s Vicente’s Cuban Cuisine, which a former co-worker told me about years ago (back when I had co-workers right after  moved to Michigan). I knew they had vegan paella for us but, as is the norm with most restaurants, there are no vegan desserts.

I considered stopping by our local go-to for raw, vegan desserts, which I pick up from time to time since I’m to lazy to make it at home. I decided for Valentine’s Day perhaps I should step up my game a little. My squeeze loves coconutty things, so I googled “vegan coconut cream pie” and lots of recipes came up, some more intricate than others. Since I didn’t have a ton of time (or the foresight to have special ordered ingredients like agar agar), I decided to tryout a recipe that only had a handful of ingredients and was really fast.

By the time I got done socializing at the grocery store, I was really crunched for time. Fortunately, there was a vegan graham cracker crust ready to purchase so I took the way easy route with that. Not that it’s hard to make one, but I don’t plan on using graham crackers again anytime soon so I figured why not.  All you need are the crackers or crumbs, butter and sugar. You can find a really simple recipe you can use to make one from scratch HERE. If you’re doing the gluten-free thing, buy some kind of gluten-free cookie and use those (I’ve used g-f gingersnaps before for crusts — yum). The pie itself is gluten-free.

I put the pie into the refrigerator a big before we left for the restaurant and it was perfectly set by the time we got home. I intended to make coconut whipped cream, but it said to refrigerate the coconut milk for overnight and again, there wasn’t enough time. I put it in the refrigerator with the intention of making it for further helpings today, but it was plenty delicious on its own so i didn’t bother. I definitely want to try some another time, though, and I think I go with THIS recipe from one of my favorite vegan blogs, Oh She Glows.

OK, onto the pie. I grabbed the recipe from the site She Knows. Mine didn’t turn out yellow like theirs. Not sure what’s up with that. Tasted great though! And my husband thought so too, which I guess was the point. I think it’s about time for me to have another helping. Enjoy!

Ingredients
• 1 c. coconut flakes (I did a little extra)
• 3 c. coconut milk (this was roughly 2 cans) or 2 c. coconut milk and 1 c. soy or almond milk for less richness.
• 1/2 c. silken tofu
• 2/3 c. sugar
• 1/2 c. cornstarch
• 1/4 tsp. salt
• 1 tsp. vanilla extract
• 1 9-inch crust (pre baked if you make it yourself)
• 1 c. of vegan whipped topping, optional :)

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spread coconut flakes on a cookie sheet and bake for 5 minutes to toast, then set aside.

2. In a medium saucepan over low heat, combine coconut milk, tofu, sugar, cornstarch and salt. Cook stirring constantly until it comes to a boil. (I found a whisk works best. And I turned the heat up a little or I was going to be waiting all day for it to come to a boil at low heat I think…).

3. Remove mixture from heat. Add 3/4 c. of the toasted coconut and vanilla. Stir well, then pour into crust.

4. Sprinkle with half of remaining toasted coconut, place in refrigerator and let chill for 3 hours or until firm.

5. If using, top with whipped cream and more toasted coconut and dig in!

Gluten-Free Vegan Snickerdoodles

I have a cookie problem. Not that I eat them a lot, but I want to. I really, really want to. I mostly fulfill this pregnancy craving by eating a Larabar. Yes, Larabar, your “peanut butter cookie” is quite delicious. Alas, it is not a cookie.

The other night in my regular quest for new recipes to try, I stumbled upon a recipe for vegan snickerdoodles — the classic cookie that is more or less a soft sugar cookie with a cinnamon-sugar coating. I couldn’t take it and closed the tab on my bot. Two days later…still thinking about them. I couldn’t find that original recipe I saw the other night, but a quick Google search turned up this one from Vegetarian Times. I decided to kick it up a notch (to basically a HEALTH FOOD, am I right?) by using Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour, making them gluten-free AND vegan.

My stepdaughter was key to the process as the chief roll-in-cinnamon-sugarer. They came out a great! A  little cakey/crumbly, but really tasty and totally satisfied my cookie desires. And all with about 20 minutes of prep time.

The original recipe said it would make 45 cookies, whereas we got about 25. Maybe ours were a little too big. Either way, it all worked out! I’ll continue to try to keep my craving in check. But when I can’t take it anymore, this will be a go-to quick and easy recipe.

Ingredients
• 1 3/4 c. all-purpose flour (in my case, gluten-free)
• 1/4 c. cornstarch
• 1 tsp. baking powder
• 1 stick vegan margarine, softened (4 oz., I used Earth Balance buttery sticks)
• 3/4 c. sugar
• 1/4 c. vanilla soy milk (I used plain almond milk)
• 1 tsp. vanilla
• 1/2 c. sugar + 3 Tbsp. cinnamon (can add a little nutmeg or allspice for a little extra flavor)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees

2. Whisk together flour, cornstarch and baking powder in a small bowl.

3. In a large bowl, beat softened butter with an electric mixer. Add sugar and beat until fluffy.

4. Beat in milk and vanilla for about 30 seconds until smooth. Add flour mixture (I did about half the bowl at a time) and beat until smooth.

5. Combine cinnamon and sugar.

6. Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Roll each ball in the cinnamon sugar and place about 1 1/2 inches apart on greased cookie sheet (I didn’t grease the sheet and it was fine but there were a couple that stuck a little bit).

7. Bake 10-12 minutes or until cookies look dry on top and are lightly browned on the bottoms. 11 minutes was perfect for ours. Let cool and store in an airtight container.

 

Vegan Pumpkin Spice Donuts

IMG_6734

A few weeks ago, I bought a Norpro 3980 12-Count Nonstick Mini Donut Pan
on Amazon, with the intent of making some kind of healthy donuts this fall instead of the fried, sugary ones that present themselves at every turn each fall. After resisting bags and bags of donuts at Eastern Market two Saturdays in a row,   I decided today was the day. Unfortunately, I was short a couple of ingredients, but my husband decided to make my pregnancy dreams come true. I wasn’t going to make him find the gluten-free section for flour, so these are regular floury vegan donuts. Next time I’ll try gluten-free so I can make them even healthier.

These were easy and turned out great. I just googled “vegan pumpkin donuts” and found my way to Vegenista, which had posted the recipe originally from blogger Bad Mama Genny. Both blogs look great!

Because my donut pan is a mini donut pan, I wasn’t sure how long to bake them. I tried 8 minutes — the time posted for the recipes on the pan’s packaging — but they weren’t done yet. So, I did the full 12 minutes listed on this recipe and it was perfect. I iced some of them and put coconut sugar or cinnamon-sugar on the rest.

These came out great! A really fast and easy recipe, sweetened with maple syrup and moistened with pumpkin and banana. I’ll definitely be making these again.

Ingredients
• 2 c. flour
• 2 tsp. baking powder
• 1/4 tsp. baking soda
• 1/2 tsp. salt
• 2 tsp. cinnamon
• 1/8 tsp. nutmeg
• 1/4 tsp. ground cloves
• 1/3 c. oil (I used sunflower)
• 6 Tbsp. maple syrup
• 1 banana, well-mashed
• 1 c. pumpkin puree
• 2 Tbsp. almond or other non-dairy milk

Icing
• 2 1/2 c. powdered sugar
• 2 Tbsp. maple syrup
• 1 tsp. cinnamon
• 4 Tbsp. almond milk

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix dry ingredients.

2. Mix wet ingredients in a separate large bowl.

3. Add dry to wet ingredients slowly, mixing along the way.

4. Now it’s time to add them to your oiled donut pan. I wasn’t sure where to begin, so I went with my old stand-by for whenever I need to fill something. I spooned the dough into a large Ziploc bag, snipped off of a corner and piped it into the donut pan.

5. Bake 12 minutes at 350 degrees. They remove easier from the pan if you let them cool first, but really it wasn’t hard when they were warm. Drizzle with icing (feel free to add sprinkles, chopped nuts, etc. at this point too if you like) or sprinkle with cinnamon sugar right out of the oven (I found it stuck better to the bottoms).

 

Forks Over Knives Cheesy Baked Ziti

I’ve been preaching about Forks Over Knives since I saw it in theaters years ago, follow them on Facebook, read all the articles. I’ve seen it in action. I know a man — for whom money is no object and could afford any medical treatment he needs — who eliminated his hereditary heart disease and cholesterol issues by following a fat-free, vegan diet like Forks Over Knives advises. (His ‘bible’ was  “Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease” by Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, one of the docs behind Forks Over Knives.)

Forks Over Knives isn’t necessarily fat-free — there are nuts in many recipes including this one, but can usually be easily omitted. One thing it (and others, such as the Happy Herbivore series and Fat Free Vegan) has taught me is that you don’t need to use oil nearly as much as you have been. For example, to start this recipe you saute onion and garlic — but in a little bit of water instead of oil. Most recipes can be done this well (it certainly helps if you have nonstick pans).

I finally sprang for the cookbook a few weeks ago and am glad I finally cracked into it. There are tons of recipes on the FOK website too, so no need to buy the cookbook if you don’t have it.

This recipe was really easy and my whole family loved it — 10-year-old recovering picky eater included. I baked this in a 2-quart glass dish instead of a 9 x 13 pan as recommended. I’m not sure it made much of a difference, but it was kind of overflowing a bit. Because the pasta portion was thicker (vs. being more spread out in a 9 x 13) I took the end of a spoon and “poked” holes throughout the dish after I poured the cheese sauce on so it could seep down a little. Again, not sure if this was necessary, but it came out cheesy and delicious. And we only made it through not quite half of the dish, so there are plenty of leftovers. Expect more out of the Forks Over Knives book. It’s kind of amazing that health can taste this good.

Serves 6
Ingredients
• 1 large yellow onion, peeled and diced
• 4 garlic cloves, minced
• 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh oregano (I bought some. I think dried would be fine though)
• 28 0z. can diced tomatoes (I got plain, but basil/garlic/Italian herb,etc would be great)
• salt and pepper to taste
• 1 lb. whole grain pasta (I went with gluten-free brown rice pasta)
• 1 recipe FOK No-Cheese Sauce, below

No-Cheese Sauce
• 1 large yellow onion, peeled and roughly chopped
• 1 large red bell pepper, seeded and roughly chopped
• 3 Tbsp. cashews, toasted, optional
• 1 Tbsp. tahini, optional
• 1 c. nutritional yeast
• salt to taste

1. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Cook pasta in salted water until just al dente or a little undercooked (it will finish in the oven).

2. Make N0-Cheese Sauce. Combine all ingredients in high-powered blender in order listed and puree until smooth, adding 1/4-1/2 c. water as needed to get blending going and reach desired consistency. Puree until smooth.

3. Place diced onion in a large saucepan and saute over medium-high heat for 7-8 minutes or until the onion starts to brown, adding 1-2 Tbsp. water when needed to keep onion from sticking.

4. Add garlic and oregano and cook for one minute.

5. Add diced tomatoes, season with salt and pepper, and cook over medium heat for about five minutes.

6. Drain the noodles and add to the tomato mixture. Mix well and pour into a 9 x 13 baking dish.

7. Pour No-Cheese Sauce over top and bake at 375, uncovered, 25 to 30 minutes, or until bubbly. (My acorn squash was still finishing up at 400, so this cooked at 400 for the first 15 minutes or so. Worked out just fine!)

Roasted Acorn Squash with Maple Brown Sugar

It’s always a good season for squash, I think, but right now they’re everywhere. I made this easy side dish to go along with a new main dish tonight (more on that later). I make this for clients all the time but have never made it for my own family! I think it was C’s first time eating squash in quite a while — I remember the last time it certainly wasn’t her favorite but her taste buds seem to finally be coming around to all the veggies I’m shoving her way these days! D LOVED it. Definitely a winner for him.

It roasts for more than an hour in the oven, so you have to make sure you have time to occupy the oven for that long, but it’s so easy — prep time is about 5 minutes.

Ingredients
• acorn squash (1/2 to 1 per person depending on the size)
• butter (1/2 Tbsp. per half — I used Earth Balance vegan sticks)
• maple syrup (1 tsp. per half)
• brown sugar (1 Tbsp. per half)

1. Cut squash in half and remove seeds. Place in a 9 x 13 or other glass dish face up, with about 1/4″ to 1/2″ of water in the bottom of the pan.

2. Melt butter and coat inside and top rim of squash halves. A pastry brush works the best here, but you can work with what you’ve got.

3. Sprinkle 1 packed Tbsp. of brown sugar in each half.

4. Drizzle 1 tsp. of maple syrup into each half.

5. Roast at 400 degrees for one hour and 15 minutes or until squash is soft and tops are a little brown.

It is easiest to dig right into your acorn half with a spoon. Enjoy!