Saturday, November 21, 2009

No Time to Bake? Maple Cookies will do the job!

Trader Joes, a place I love to frequent! With that said, we are just five days away from Thanksgiving. The hustle and bustle of Christmas shopping tends to intertwine with the planning of our perfect Thanksgiving menus. If you find yourself in a bind and need a last minute dessert to bring along to a gathering, or as an addition to your feast, the Maple Leaf Cookies at T.J.'s are quite tasty. It's the right maple creme sweetness smothered among two crisp shortbread cookies. Might I add, they are a perfect accompanyment to a warm cup of tea.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Hey There Pudding

Whenever I am able to leave my two kids home with my husband to do the grocery shopping, it becomes an enjoyable outing, as opposed to a stress-filled rushed one. A reminder, my daughters are four and one.

When I shop with them, its “I want this, I want that”. “She hit me!” I am sure if you have children of your own, you know how the rest goes. While I weave in and out of the tightly woven aisles trying to avoid hitting people as my oldest refuses to stop hanging on the side and almost knocking down products, my youngest cries and tries to kick her sister and begs for food. It becomes a race against the clock.

But, Trader Joe’s is known for its new products. A personal mission of mine to try the Vegetarian newcomers keeps me always on the prowl.

This latest shopping trip, as my children were at home, I was able to take my time and browse the aisles. Indeed, I found something new as usual, instant vanilla and chocolate pudding. The packaging sold me, simple design with a retro vintage style. Though the products are Vegetarian, they claim that the product will not set with use of soy or rice milk.
They didn’t mention almond.

For those who are Vegan and want to try these products, I chose to use almond milk. I placed the 2 cups of cold milk into a saucepan and added 1 Tbsp. of Arrowroot powder. I dissolved the powder in the milk and furthered reduced it to insure it was “milk” consistency. I also think using the soy creamer might work, as it is milk texture. Anyways, after reducing the milk, I allowed it to cool then placed it in the refrigerator for 1 hour. I then followed the remaining directions and found the product set as needed.

If you aren’t able to make your own pudding, and prefer a pudding that is soy free, this is a great alternative. It is simple, shelf stable, and pretty tasty. I think it’d make a great pie, though I just ate mine in a parfait cup with a dollop of Vegan whipped crème. Enjoy!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Delight of Donuts

It had been all too long since I indulged in a donut. The sweet dough, the icing, and the way it crumbled in my mouth, seemed a long ago thought, until recently.

From the end of September through the beginning of October, my family and I hopped a plane to visit my parents in the beautiful state of Washington. They moved about five years ago near the Case Inlet by the Puget Sound. It is absolutely gorgeous, and even more so during this visit with the vibrant colors of Autumn. Amazing red maple trees, variegated firs, and an orchestra of ferns struck a harmonious chord inside me that left my heart aglow. It was difficult to leave behind and return to our urban cement surroundings.

What made it even harder was again visiting Seattle, which has the allure of culture, media, and great restaurants. This time around we had the great delight of partaking in Vegan donuts from “Mighty O’ Donuts”. And how Mighty they were!

Mighty O’ Donuts is nestled among the Wallingford neighborhood area of Seattle. As we strolled down the sidewalks scattered with fall leaves, admiring the vintage Craftsman houses, we became in love with Seattle. An additional treat was the presence of the sweet aroma of freshly baked donuts wafting through the crisp air as we neared our destination. It was divine!

What began as a basement business selling to neighbors and local farmers markets in 2000, turned legitimate business during 2001 when Mighty O’s owners shared a commercial bakery spot with another company. It wasn’t until 2002 that they secured a spot in the historic building of Wallingford and have been selling their tasty treats since.

Growing up my dad would buy Winchell's donuts on Sundays before we headed to church. It was our weekly treat, as my mom did not allow sugary foods in the house during the week. My favorite were the chocolate covered long johns. So scrumptious.

Because of the nature and quality of donuts, I left them behind when I became Vegetarian. Though I have had the option of a refrigerated vegan donut company that used to be sold at my local Health food store, but they long ago discontinued them. Strangely enough, it seems my jobs are always located amongst these sweet little pastries shops with their incredible scent calling my name.

So heck, I indulged. Indeed I did! From Mint/Chocolate- Chocolate glazed, to Peanut butter swirl, and Cinnamon too, I indulged. Sprinkles, Nut covered, and Double Chocolate I tasted; and still wanted more. What started with one taste ended with nine leaving Mighty O’s doors. Had we have spent more time in Seattle; I’d have stopped by again. It’s not often I gorge myself on desserts, but felt the need to take more in!

Organic and all natural, and sweet as can be, Mighty O’ Donuts knocked the socks off of me!

When in Seattle do visit!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Waste Not, Want Not!

Go Green!

We’ve all heard it…..Global Warming! While there are some people standing out with picket signs and getting political, most of us prefer to make changes quietly in our own home and support these needed changes on a ballot. Both are a great way to do the necessary!

Global warming, as most of you know, is one of the main environmental concerns of our time. Our Earth is heavily affected by all the pollution around us, and not able to cool down. Obviously, for every cause there is an affect.

How can you do your part? There are many! The more you do, the better. The more you can encourage others to do the same, can also make a phenomenal impact.

Below are some suggestions I encourage you to try or to pass along to others. If you have some suggestions of your own that you feel would be of benefit to pass along to my readers, please leave a comment/suggestion.

1. Compost- turns your food waste into rich soil for your garden and in turn eliminates
some of our landfill issues. For a list of what’s compostable visit:

2. Reuse- reusing not only helps with less waste, you will keep more money in your
pocket….especially in an economy like today’s.

3. Recycle- Buy recycled products. Additionally, what you think is trash can be made
into treasure. For a list of recycables visit:

4. Reduce- don’t think you need to keep up with the Jones’s. Think supply and demand.
The less we demand, the less is being created in factories (saving energy costs)
Additionally it helps with keeping money in your pocket.

5. Support “Green” Business- Companies that are conscious about producing goods
without pesticides and herbicides, companies that donate money to charitable causes,
companies that practice environmental consciousness- are the businesses we should

6. Buy Organic- products not created or grown with pesticides/ herbicides only better
the condition of our soil, air, water, etc. If you don’t see organic at your local market-
request that they carry some.

7. Support Local Farmers- food taste best when it hasn’t traveled very far. By supporting
local vendors/farmers, there will be less transportation of goods= less pollution

8. Buy BPA free plastic-

9. Eat Vegetarian- Even if you don’t want to convert to being Vegetarian, eating this way
puts less constraints on the Earth. Try it even at one meal.

10. Buy Fair Trade Products-

11. Make Sun Tea- less waste because you’re heating by the Sun versus by gas/electric.

12. Unplug Plugs- less electricity use

13. Drive a fuel efficient car or keep yours running well- remember to get your smog
check- this eliminates unwanted air pollution, etc.

14. Substainable products/ landscaping- less water usage. Ask your local nursery for a
list of substainable agriculture/ plants. Remember: Don’t use poisons- they end up
in our oceans. Ask your nursery or look online to get rid of unwanted garden pests.

15. Follow your local water day policys- there’s a reason for it, it’s not to inconvience

16. Dehydrate or Can= Less Food Waste, less demand

17. Fix Leaks/ Take Shorter Showers- Less H20 waste

18. Use a tankless water heater- less water use

19. Replace Light Bulbs for Earth Friendly lightbulbs-

20. Use Blankets instead of a heater and open windows for fresh breeze instead of air

21. Insulate and use reflective material in your attic/home. Keeps you cool in the
Summer/ Warm in the Winter and also is a tax right off!

22. Use a Push Mower- less air pollution, (noise and gasoline), also exercises your body.

23. Use Canvas Bags when you shop- Plastic takes a long time to decompose and Paper
kills our trees….canvas is reusable!

24. Run/Bike/Walk/Carpool- this has a great affect on our carbon print we leave behind.
What’s a carbon print? Visit-

25. Don’t flush the toilet as often unless it’s #2. -Water saving technique.

26. Re-use gray water- ex: collect water in a bucket while showering and use it to water
your garden.

27. Buy in Bulk

28. Wind/ Solar Power-

29. Re-dye old clothing to make them look new again.

30. Buy Earth Friendly cookware-

****Related Video*****
Al Gores- “An Inconvient Truth”

****Related Websites***

Thanks for doing your part!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Butternut, Swiss Chard, and White Bean Soup

1 Tbsp. Olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
3 large carrots, chopped medium
3 stalks celery, chopped
1 sprig fresh rosemary
4 sprigs fresh thyme
16 ounces of canned white beans
8 cups vegetable stock
1 tsp. Fresh rosemary, chopped
2 cups butternut squash, diced
4 garlic cloves, sliced
Salt and pepper
4 cups swiss chard leaves, chopped
1-2 cups vegetable stock for thinning soup
1/2 cup Soy Supreme Sour Cream (by tofutti)
1 cup of croutons

Sauté onion, celery, and carrot in olive oil until softened trying not to let brown. Add in white beans, rosemary sprig, thyme sprig, vegetable stock, and pepper. Bring to a boil and then allow simmering for 10 minutes. Add in the butternut squash, garlic, fresh rosemary, minced garlic and salt and pepper to taste. With the lid on, allow to cook for another 20 minutes. Stir in swiss chard just before serving and use remaining vegetable stock to thin soup if too thick. Pull out sprigs of rosemary, and thyme. Add the salt to correct seasonings. Serve with a dollop of sour cream and croutons.

Yields: 6 servings

Pining Away in My Cave

Sitting listening to The Innocence Mission, in my “cave office”, literally a converted closet, I sit idly waiting for students to tutor growing ever more impatient and disgusted at getting paid to watch the clock, when my heart and soul ache to involve myself with what I am most passionate about; three things: My husband, my kids, and food.

With this economy, my day job was shifted this last January from a chaotic, social, and festive atmosphere in which I thrive, to a quiet, lonely, and seldom working Federally funded program- a safety net of a job (of which I appreciate being employed even with it’s downsides), where I am tormented by hours of solitude. So I fill my hours with reading, writing, dreaming, and thinking of food.

Come afternoon I am happily reunited with kids and can dive into fulfilling activities and culinary creations- be that blogging, working on new recipes, a cookbook, or my side business; For Cake Sake.

I know I write mostly of desserts, hence the title of my blog:, but I also love savory food.

My husband and I were blessed this last year to be able to buy hour first house. We have been daily laboring on it because of the dilapidated condition in which we purchased it. We have, particularly of late, been seeing the fruits of our labor, literally!

My daughter Mallory picked her first Ruby Red Strawberry yesterday. She so graciously allowed us to divide it into fours so we could all get a taste…. but snuck her dad’s portion with a glint of teasing in her eye before he could enjoy his portion. It was a sweet and supple berry.

Our Babcock white peach tree is growing nicely and should provide us with fruit shortly. Our garden is flourishing and we have enjoyed many dinners contain the organic vegetables from our raised beds: yellow squash, mesculin, spinach, red/green leaf lettuce, swiss chard, and cilantro. We are patiently waiting for our tomatoes, bell peppers, varigated carrots, beets, watermelon, cantaloupe, cucumber, zucchini, boysenberries, basil, sage, oregano, avocados, and radishes. Next time we will plant more.

It is so thrilling and rewarding! The robust flavor is exquisite right from the soil, and puts store bought produce to shame.

In addition, we are composting. Something I’ve always wanted to do. On trash day, Tuesdays, you get a true sense of what is actually trash. We have three bins: recyclable, trash, and compost. Our trash is so minimal in comparison to the size of the other bins, and leaves me with a tinge of pride in doing my part to help with the environment. If only a large portion of households were able to do the same, I think we could make a dent!

I am attaching a recipe for Butternut, Swiss Chard, and White Bean Soup. We enjoyed it recently with some Organic vegetables from our garden. We accompanied the soup with cornbread and a fresh salad. Though it is almost Summertime, this June gloom brings some days where soup is still welcomed.

Ain't That The Truth!

My momma always said, "Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get". - Forrest Gump

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Gelatin Free Jello

Thunder claps in the sky and the rain sweetens my garden soil. I find myself inside today nuturing my sick little girls. A hot bowl of Vegan Chicken Dumpling Soup, Chowder Crackers, and some Vegan Jello are great provisions.

My dear friend Brianne, who is due with her second child any day now, suggested the Vegan Jello at Trader Joe's. Her two year old son Jonah gobbles the stuff up. Knowing that I want healthy snacks for my kids, and something to mimic what their non-vegetarian friends have, I scoured the shelves for it on my next grocery excursion.

Both my daughters devoured it upon arriving home. Curious at the texture and flavor, I enjoyed one myself. My husband who is not much for jello also loved it !

The jello comes in a four pack for only $2.49. I have only seen two flavors thus far: Black Cherry and Peach Mango

Ingredients of filtered water, sugar, carrageenan, natural flavors, Peach colors: (tumeric and annatto), sodium citrate, malic acid, citric acid, ascorbic acid (vitamin C), alpha tocopherols (vitamin E), Black Cherry colors: (beet juice, caramel, and annatto)- Gelatin Free!

Full of vitamin C, these are better than trying to coax your kid into taking a vitamin, and they're delicious!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Vegan Crepes filled with Banana Custard atop Raspberry Coulis

A very close friend of mine, Brianne Wells, loves Vegan desserts probably as much as I do. In celebration of her pregnancy, I had a little dinner party for her this weekend. She looked so beautiful with that natural glow and oh so adorable baby belly. Since she had requested carrot cake and overdosed on it the week before, I switched gears and sought a springtime-flavored dessert instead.

I chose Vegan Crepes filled with Banana Custard on top of Raspberry Coulis, garnished with Fresh Raspberries, Soy Whip Crème, and Toasted Slivered Almonds.

Crepes are traditionally made with eggs. The texture of Vegan crepes can be difficult to recreate, but not impossible. Though they can be served cold, I think they are most enjoyable warm.



1-cup whole-wheat pastry flour
1/2-cup brown rice flour
1 Tbsp. Kudzu, ground fine
1/4 tsp. Salt
2 –2 1/2 cups soymilk or water
1 tsp. Coconut oil or canola oil

In a bowl, mix flours, kudzu and salt. Add enough water or soymilk to make a thin batter that will coat a wooden spoon. To make batter thin and light, whip all ingredients in blender at least 2 minutes. In a heated skillet (preferably cast iron) brushed with oil, ladle a very thin layer of batter revolving the skillet so it is quickly, evenly and widely coated in a 6-7 inch circle. When ends are brown, loosen crepe and cook briefly until brown on the other side. Stack crepes and store at room temperature until ready to serve.


1 pack of Mori Nu Silken tofu
2 cups mashed ripe bananas
1 tsp. Vanilla ext.
1/2 tsp. Almond ext
1 Tbsp. Lemon juice
1/2 –3/4 cup almond milk
1/2- 3/4 cup maple syrup or sugar
1 Tbsp. Arrowroot powder

Blend all ingredients together until smooth. Place in refrigerator for 4 hours to chill and firm up.


1 bag of frozen raspberries
1/4-cup maple syrup
1-cup apple juice or water
1 tsp. Vanilla ext.
1/2 lemon, juiced

Place all ingredients in blender and blend until smooth.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Coconut Banana Vegan French Toast

As a child, my mom made the best French toast around. To this day, French toast is a favorite of mine. I am typically in a hurry in the mornings and opt for hot or cold cereal, with almond or soymilk and a cup of juice along with a piece of toast with avocado. Quick!

But, on the days where I like to linger around a bit, French toast or Waffles with all the fixings are usually the hit.

So my only request today for my Mother’s Day treat was to have my husband and oldest daughter prepare Coconut Banana Vegan French Toast. It was fabulous!

Here’s the recipe if any of you are a French toast fan. Have a wonderful Mother’s Day!

Coconut Banana Vegan French toast
(Yield: 4-6 servings)

2 bananas
1-cup coconut milk
3/4 cups soymilk
1/2 tsp. Sugar
1/2 tsp. Cinnamon (optional)
Sourdough bread
Oil or margarine for frying

Mash the bananas well and whisk together with the coconut milk, soymilk, sugar and cinnamon. Pour into a shallow pan or pie tin.

Dip both sides of the bread into the mixture, and cook in a lightly greased skillet over the medium heat. French toast should be lightly golden brown on both sides.

*** I had my French toast drizzled with maple syrup and lightly dusted with powdered sugar, enjoyed surfing and gardening afterwards and being rewarded with my daughter’s homemade Mother’s Day card that she made at preschool-Priceless! ***

Thursday, May 7, 2009

URGENT! Turtle Mountain To Your Rescue!


With all this talk of global warming, and weather to indicate it’s true, I must warn you to prepare for these hot days and stock up your freezer with the most heavenly Vegan ice cream there is! Turtle Mountain ice cream is the best! Hands down, it’s the best!

With so many flavors to choose from, 21 to be exact, you will never grow tired of this cold treat. Who else makes cherry nirvana, chunky mint madness, peanut butter zig zag, or pomegranate chip?

Turtle Mountain is also on my list of favorite companies for it’s excellent yogurt and ice cream bars. Not too long ago, they started making coconut milk based yogurt. It’s as rich and creamy as you’d expect, all the while maintaining it’s agenda to stay healthy.

Established in 1987 with headquarters in Oregon, they are a company with a philosophy to create the finest dairy free desserts on the market. Having won the “Best Desserts” for 7 years in a row, as noted by Veg News Magazine, I think they are hitting their mark!

It’s the ice cream I prefer above all the rest, and I dare you to put it to the test!

Visit - to hear more about this piquant company

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Organic Toddler Puffs

I have two children. My oldest, Mallory, will be four in September. My youngest Margeux will be 9 months on May 2nd. Although at times, they drive me nuts....they are truly a wonderful blessing! They amaze me always with their curiosity, growth and achievements.

With my constant search for delicious and healthy products, particularly for my kids, at times I have become disappointed. Some Infant/Toddler snacks are lacking the quality and simplicity of natural foods. I would love to be at home with my girls, but am not able, and therefore require the blessing of the great caregivers that have come my way.

For their convenience I like to have easy snacks on hand. My three year old is not a concern, she has all her teeth and choking hazards are less a concern. For my infant/toddler I was able to find a product by Happy Baby. They are dissolvable Organic Puff finger foods. Packed with great ingredients, they fill my food conscious criteria. Their Green Puffs contain organic rice, organic whole oats, organic evaporated cane juice, organic brown rice, organic wheat starch, organic spinach, organic collard greens, organic kale, and a list of vitamins and minerals. Margeux loves them!

You can also find pure, simple, and natural baby foods by Happy Baby in the frozen food section at health food markets. Not only conscious about the quality of food, they are also advocates of "green" or environmental packaging. They are made with recycled materials, BPA free, and are recyclable.

I give this company an A+

* for more information on their products or company go to:

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Vegan White Chocolate

Not too long ago I wrote about White Chocolate. I did some research after that article due to my craving for Vegan Macadamia White Chocolate Chip cookies.

I did indeed find a great solution to feed my desire. They are Vegan White Chocolate Chips by a company called Vegan Sweets. I've yet to see them in a store, but you can order them online @

Produced using only Non-Bone Char Processed Sugar, Vegetable Oil, Cocoa Butter, Soy Lecithin, Vanillin, Salt, and Vegan Natural Flavors, I found them to be a wonderful alternative.

Upon receiving them in the mail, the aroma of incredible cookies filled my kitchen. These too shall become a staple in my baking cupboard!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Egg Free...The Way I Want To Be

Growing up in Westminster, CA. I had an unusual upbringing. My backyard was a small farm. We had turtles, geese, rabbits, chickens, dogs, cats, birds, and hamsters. We also had several fruit trees and quite a large garden.

The neighbor down the street had a miniature horse. My elementary school class would take tours in our “farm” and the gentleman would have his horse available for rides. It was a great experience that created a passion for homegrown produce, gardening, and animal care.

Because I had some interesting pets, this fabricated reason for me not desiring the eggs in which they produced. I couldn’t bare the thought of eating what came out of my pet chickens butt (a child’s understanding). I was often left at the table with my scrambled eggs getting cold and trying to creatively hide them under the rim of my plate or spit them in my napkin. I’d try to flavor them with ketchup in order to stomach them, but thoughts of bloody embryos/baby chicks didn’t make them sit well in my mouth…and I’d eventually spit them out.

To this day, I can’t stand the smell or taste of eggs. Baking has been a challenge at times, but I find it my goal to make amazing tasting pastries that are egg/ dairy free. So far, I have made many mouths pleasantly surprised and ever content.

Eggs, as most of you know, are used for product shelf stability, flavor enhancing, and ingredient binding. A great source of protein, they are a staple in most households. Although, for some they are an allergen. I avoid them for the simple reason of distaste.

For several years, I have been asked how I bake without the use of eggs. My answer, there are ample ways to avoid them. Below is a list of alternatives.

1. Tofu
2. “Egg Replacer” by EnerG
3. Banana, Pureed Fruit, Apple Sauce, Date or Prune Puree, Berries, (anything high in pectin…which is a gelatinous, slippery ingredient derived from the skin of fruit)
4. Pectin
5. Agar Agar
6. Arrowroot
7. Kuzu, or other root starches
8. Flax seeds- soak overnight in H20 at room temp.

To replace eggs in cake recipes:
*Use 3 Tbsp. Liquid (soymilk, water, or juice) for each egg
*Use 1/8-pound tofu (silken is best) blended with liquid ingredients for each egg
*Use 3 Tbsp. Liquid plus 1 Tbsp arrowroot plus 1 Tbsp. Flour for each egg

I have personally tried all of these methods. Depending on what I am baking, one may be preferable over the other. But, they all work.

Happy Baking!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Rice Krispie Treats

I just wrote an article about Sweet and Sara, a Vegan Marshmallow company. I wanted to include a quick Rice Krispie Treat recipe that is so easy to make, easy to clean up after, and leaves you satisfied for that something sweet.

1 1/2 Tbsp. Earth Balance
1/2 pack (8 marshmallows) of Sweet and Sara Marshmallows
3 cups organic brown rice crisps (Whole Foods alternative for Rice Crispies)

Prepare a 4x6 baking pan with parchment. Set Brown Rice Crisps aside in a mixing bowl. Melt Earth Balance in a pan over medium heat. When melted, add marshmallows until they become thin/"stringy". Remove from heat, and poor over crisps. Make sure to coat the crisps. Place the mix in prepared pan and pat flat. Allow to cool then refrigerate. Serve at room temperature. Yields: 12 squares.

S'more please

As dark approaches, the nightlight of stars begin taking their places amongst the cool evening air. I sit alongside the warm glow of the fire pit wrapped in a down jacket, a blanket upon my lap, holding a skewer over the lick of flames so my marshmallow roasts.

I eagerly prepare my graham cracker with a fine spread of peanut butter and a wedge of semi-sweet dark chocolate. The freshly roasted marshmallow, complete with it’s gooey inside, melts the chocolate and warms the peanut butter into a blend of intoxicating sweetness. The jacket of graham crackers a perfect structure for what leaves remnants of ooze along my lips that I happily lick off.

The joyful chatter buzzes with storytelling; warms my soul as I participate in the ringside clatter of laughter.

Camping is a favorite! From childhood to adulthood I have vowed to keep this a staple and pass it’s enjoyment along to my children.

Fond memories of storytelling, hiking, and tenting are now shaped with new experiences much more- as they are now sprinkled with little giggles from my daughters. I love to create those first moments. Smores’ were my family’s tradition, and one I’d like to have my children participate in.

Because traditional marshmallows contain gelatin (processed through animal bones), we eliminated this pleasure until a year ago. It’s with great pleasure that I acknowledge “Sweet and Sara”. They are a Vegan marshmallow company. Sweet in taste and the perfect texture, these leave nothing left to be desired. Because they melt wonderfully, they will be an obvious substitute for my smores this summertime when I allow my oldest her first smore. Family traditions must continue!

* For more information about Sweet and Sara- visit

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Coconut Creme Scream

Coconut Crème Pie with Chocolate Sauce has been my husband Kevin’s request for his birthday dessert the last three years. We just celebrated his birthday this last Saturday and enjoyed this annual dessert.

Traditionally made with a substantial amount of eggs and dairy, this is created with silken tofu, soymilk, and a sweet medley of ingredients.

In the past, my business For Cake Sake, sold this particular dessert to the Orange County restaurant, Native Foods. Additionally, it was quite a hit among our private clients.

This tropical flavored dessert is wonderful alongside curried vegetables with jasmine rice.

Over the years, I have been asked how to bake desserts without the use of eggs. Please be sure to visit my post this week if you are interested in egg-free baking methods.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Happy Easter

Easter is just five days away. While many of you are busily planning your festivities, the little ones are excitedly awaiting a basketful of goodies! I am constantly reminded of the commercial side of Easter while shopping; with the aisles of chocolate bunnies, jellybeans, and marshmallow peeps.

Following Christian beliefs, my family and I celebrate with a sunrise service, and participate in an Easter egg hunt afterwards. My sugar-overload anxiety began with my oldest daughter Mallory, when she joined in on her first egg hunt two years ago. Plastic eggs filled with candies made from hydrogenated oils, and other poor quality ingredients made me want to avoid this social activity. But, I’ve lightened up, realizing I can secretly toss most of it and allow her a small amount to enjoy.

Funny enough, her first year she loved rocks! Our own hidden eggs were filled with colorful stones, money, stickers, and vegetarian treats. This year, her third hunt, I’ve found some great alternative candies. Yes, it’s still candy. However, I feel better that it is of better quality! I guess you can call me a food snob.

Surf Sweets provides organic gummy worms, jellybeans, and other chewy candies. They are similar in taste, but made without artificial colors or flavors. However, the gummy worms contain gelatin, so if you are Vegetarian, I’d suggest their other choices. (

Then there are Mambas Vegan Fruit Chews. They are similar to Starburst. They too are an all-natural treat. Delicious!(

Lastly, for you chocolate lovers, the chocolate peanut butter bites sold at (1800-340-1200) are awesome. Both you and your little ones will delight in this treat.

My youngest daughter Margeux is only eight months old, has four teeth, and her sweet tooth has not quite developed. But come next year, I will return to these same companies for the selection they provide for this once a year egg hunt.

God Bless!

The News is it's VegNews!

Those who know me well know I am a master multi-tasker; I rarely sit still. By evening, which is sadly 9 p.m., I am exhausted. With two small children I have sadly forsaken my love of reading. Reading was my way of relaxing my constant thoughts. Pathetically, as of late, I picked up a novel I started two years ago; “The Silver Hand”, by Stephen Lawhead.

Having cancelled most of my magazine subscriptions, due to lack of time, I took up literary gratitude in solitude as I sojourned doctor’s appointments. Each word I read was a tasty morsel, making me crave more; sort of like my chocolate addiction. For me, not having words is like standing naked surrounded by strangers while awaiting a train ride. It’s disconcerting!

So to merge my fervor of reading with cooking, I purchased the last three issues of VegNews. It is an awesome vehicle of educating oneself on current environmental issues, while simultaneously and harmonically entertaining your inner culinary agendas. Beautifully laid out, it is a sophisticated and friendly read. Additionally, if you want to know who or how the rich and famous eat Vegetarian, this magazine will solicit to your inner curiosities, and further your knowledge of particular “stars” with its interview section.

Honestly, I’ve prepared most of the fare offered each issue, and they have intelligibly chosen palate-pleasing recipes. In the February 2009 issue, the Clam-Free Chowdah (pg.60) is a great rendition of the original dairy and clam filled soup. VegNews won’t disappoint you! Now all I have to do is subscribe!

$4.95/ issue-

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Apple-Blackberry Pie with Crumble Topping

As I run, the fragrance of jasmine and honeysuckle fill the air reminding me that Spring is here and fruit is in abundance. A perfect time for baking!

1/2 c. almonds, roasted
1 cup unbleached all purpose flour
pinch of sea salt
1/3 cup canola oil
1/3 cup maple syrup

Preheat oven for 350 degrees. Mix dry ingredients in bowl and wet in another. Bake at 350 for 7-10 minutes.
2 lbs. apples, peeled cored and sliced
1 lb. blackerries
1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup-1 cup organic brown sugar
2 Tbsp. arrowroot powder
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. mace
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. sea salt

In a bowl, toss the apples together with the lemon juice, half the sweetener, the spices and salt. Fold in the blackberries.
In a small bowl, mix together all the other ingredients and allow to stand for 10 minutes. If using the smaller amount of sugar, taste and adjust. Pile the mix into the prepared crust, then add crumble topping atop filling.
1 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
3/4 cup maple sugar
1 1/4 cups walnuts, roasted and chopped
1 Tbsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1 1/4 tsp. mace
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/3 -1/2 cup canola oil
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract

In a medium bowl, combine flour, maple sugar, nuts and spices. Drizzle the oil into the ingredients, mixing until uneven crumbs form. Pat this topping over apple-blackberry filling. Cover the pie with foil, bake at 400 degrees or until filling begins to bubble at edges. Reduce heat to 350 degrees, remove foil and continue baking until streusal is golden brown and juice is bubbling. Cool 45 minutes before serving.

Monday, March 30, 2009

What's in White Chocolate?

Over this last weekend I was asked if white chocolate contained any chocolate. I responded that it was made with cocoa butter, which yes, is part of chocolate. I also added that some brands use palm kernal oil. Though it is Vegetarian, it is not Vegan because of it's dairy content. Below is a more descriptive explanation of how it is produced.

Raw white chocolate
White chocolate is made of cocoa butter, milk, and sugar. Most often, the cocoa butter is deodorized to remove its strong and undesirable taste that would negatively impact the flavour of the finished chocolate[3]. Regulations also govern what may be marketed as "white chocolate": In the United States, since 2004, white chocolate must be at least 20% cocoa butter (by weight), at least 14% total milk solids, at least 3.5% milk fat, and less than 55% sugar or other sweeteners. Before this date, U.S. firms required temporary marketing permits to sell white chocolate. The European Union has adopted the same standards, except that there is no limit on sugar or sweeteners.[4] Although white chocolate is made the same way as milk chocolate and dark chocolate, the ingredients are different. Because of the ingredients, many people (including the U.S. Food and Drug Administration) don't consider "white chocolate" to be chocolate at all [5], but in most cases, it does contain cocoa butter: a product that, like many cocoa solids, is derived from the cacao bean. However, some preparations (known as confectioner's coating or summer coating) are made from inexpensive solid or hydrogenated vegetable and animal fats, and as such, is not at all derived from cocoa. These preparations may actually be white in color (in contrast to white chocolate's ivory shade[3]) and will lack cocoa butter's flavor.
Because it does not contain any cocoa solids, one benefit of white chocolate is that it also does not contain any theobromine, which means it can be consumed by individuals who must avoid theobromine for medical reasons. Theobromine is only found in the cocoa solids and other ingredients of chocolate that give it the characteristic brown color. In contrast to white chocolate, dark chocolate contains the largest amount of theobromine, because it contains the largest amount of cocoa solids. The theobromine content of milk chocolate falls somewhere between white and dark chocolate.[citation needed]
[edit]Use in baking

White chocolate can be difficult to work with. When melted, the cocoa butter can occasionally split and create an oily compound that can be recovered by re-emulsifying. This can be done by melting a small amount of butter or chocolate and whisking in the "oily compound". As with chocolate, as soon as any water is introduced into the melted product it rapidly turns lumpy and grainy, i.e. split. Again, it can be saved by re-emulsifying.
Like chocolate, it may be purchased in large or small bricks, but these can often be difficult to work with as one must cut off chunks with a knife, often resulting in inaccurate portioning. Pastilles/Feves (small chips) are often a more precise way to use white chocolate.
White chocolate can be used for decoration of milk or dark chocolate confections or in any way chocolates might be used. vanillia fudge is also marked as white chocolate fudge.

References: Wikipedia

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Nothing Beats Boylan's

Originally a caffeine fiene in my former days, drinking six sodas during my work shifts, and joining friends for café lattes afterwards, I knew I needed to kick my habit.

Over one Summer I went from jitterbug to all natural. I think it was a kidney infection that motivated me. Having found a new fondness for the taste of water I swore I would never be addicted to another caffeinated drink.

It wasn’t until years later when I returned to the soda section while grocery shopping. Promising myself to stay healthy, I chose ginger ale; which is a naturally caffeine free soda pop. My first impression of this particular brand, which shall remain nameless, was bitter and hard to swallow.

From that moment onward I vowed to find a ginger ale of my pleasing. At best, I have tried ten brands. Some were sweet, but left a bad aftertaste, and others were just disgusting. Alas, three years ago, I came to the saint of ginger ales. BOYLAN”S!!! I swear a halo sat atop its bottle.

BOYLAN”S Ginger Ale is amazing at best! It is the right sweet, the right tang, and has a refreshing aftertaste.

Around since 1891, BOYLAN”S started as a beer company and grew to become a company with a wide selection of classic soda flavors, seltzers, and authentic all-natural colas. Using pure cane sugar to enhance its flavor, as opposed to its so-called competition, it beats out any brand! Additionally, it maintains it’s vintage appeal with the use of traditional glass bottles, iconic of that era.

Having tried most of their soda selection, nothing beats BOYLAN”S!


Tuesday, March 17, 2009

St. Patty's Day Parfait

A conversion of traditional parfait, however sweet as its successor, is compiled from Vegan ingredients. Its light texture lends a perfect blend to its cookie counterpart.

1 pack Mori Nu XF silken tofu 1 pack Mori Nu XF silken tofu
1/8 tsp. Sea salt 1/8 tsp. Sea salt
3/4 tsp. Mint extract 1/2 Tbsp. Vanilla extract
1/4-cup vanilla soymilk 1/4-cup vanilla soymilk
1/4 cup + 1 Tbsp. Fresh mint 1/3 cup + 2 Tbsp. Cocoa powder
1/2-cup +1 Tbsp. Cane sugar 3/4-cup cane sugar
1 Tbsp. Tofutti Cream Cheese 1 Tbsp. Tofutti Cream Cheese
6 Tbsp. Powdered sugar 2 Tbsp. Powdered sugar
2 Tbsp. Arrowroot powder 2 Tbsp. Arrowroot powder

• Newman O’s- Hint of Mint Cookies
• Tru -Whip

Mint: Place all ingredients in blender and blend until smooth. Refrigerate for two hours

Chocolate: Place all ingredients in blender and blend until smooth. Refrigerate for two hours.

In either a wine glass or parfait glass layer chocolate mousse, then crumbled O’s, then mint mousse. Do so until layers reach top of glass. Garnish with Tru-whip and one whole O. Enjoy.

Monday, March 16, 2009

The Big Screen

Because of my love for cooking, I am a fan of movies that involve stories about food. Although this is an older film, I highly recommend it. It is called Chocolat. Here is what Netflix describes: "An iconoclastic single mother and her young daughter move to a village in France and open a chocolate shop-that's open Sundays across the street from the church. At first, Binoches rich sensuous desserts scandalize the town. But soon, the villagers welcome the newcomers with open arms. Judi Dench, Lena Olin, and Johnny Depp co-star in this 2000 Best Picture Nominee."

Lucky Irish!

Saint Patrick is a Patron Saint of Ireland. Saint Patrick's Day is observed on March 17th. It is a religious celebration and feast day for the anniversary of St. Patrick's death during the 5th century. Irish have long observed this day for over 1000 years. St. Patrick's Day occurs during the Christian season of Lent. Irish families would traditionally attend church in the a.m. and celebrate in the afternoon. Lent prohibited consumption of meat and was waived. Then people would dance, drink and feast on the traditional meal of Irish Bacon and Cabbage, alongside Soda Bread and Apple Cake.

Saint Patrick's Day is still a celebration today, but has long taken on an appearance of green day... signifying the Clover Leaf and Ireland.

However, some of us just like to observe the day by feasting on green foods and wearing green so we don't get pinched.

Here is a sample menu for a wonderful Vegetarian meal in celebration of Saint Patrick's Day!

- Artichoke and Spinach Quiche with Corn Hollandaise Sauce alongside Wild Rice and Asparagus Spears.
- Dessert: Chocolate and Mint Mousse Parfait, Layered among Newman O's, and garnished with Tru-Whipped Creme.

* Recipe for dessert will be posted tomorrow afternoon*

Enjoy the day! Drink Responsibly! Don't get Pinched!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

A Little Chocolate History

"Cylindrical clay jars found in the ruins of Chaco Canyon in New Mexico were unlike any other pottery found there, and anthropologists had long puzzled over how they were used. Now the mystery may be solved: The jars apparently were used for drinking chocolate, like the Maya of Central and South America did as far back as 1000 A.D. A chemist for the Hershey chocolate company tested the pottery and found traces of theobromine, a biological marker for cacao, from which chocolate is made. That would make the Chacoans-1,200 miles from the nearest cacao trees- the first consumers of chocolate in North America. Their chocolate arrived via a 3,100-mile trade route that extended to New Mexico from as far south as Ecuador and Colombia, where cacoa is grown."

-News &Trends

It's Tru, I'm Whipped!

A Vegetarian for 16 years, I left whipped creme along the wayside some time ago. It's hydrogenated oil, trans fat, and poor ingredients had little to offer me except its taste. Sadly, I have missed it as an addition to banana splits, as a garnish for cobbler, or as an accompaniment to strawberries.

After trying many alternative whipped toppings, and even trying to create my own, I remained disappointed. However, a month ago, while busy filling my basket with phyllo dough from the frozen food section to make spanikopitas, I caught a glimpse of Tru-Whip.

Tru-Whip is an all-natural, certified organic alternative to whipped creme. It stated no hydrogenated oils, no GMO's or trans- fat. In the mood to test my tastebuds, I tossed it in my basket and found some strawberries in the produce section.

Plump, juicy strawberries; considered to be an aphrodisiac, are quite delicious on their own. Add some Tru-whip and they are down right sultry!

Tru-whip is light, creamy, and sweet. I was amazed by its similar texture to that of my former dessert companion. Satiated, I know It's Tru. I'm whipped!

For more product information on Tru-Whip go to:

No Cavities w/this Chocolate!

I recently went to my dentist for my 6 month check up and cleaning. When my hygenist was finished with the cleaning, she offered me a flavor choice for the polish. I was pleasantly surprised when she listed the flavors: Mint, Orange, and Chocolate. That choice was a no brainer. Some of you may think that polishing with Chocolate is disgusting. Simply put, it's no calories, taste great and creates no cavities. It was like having dessert!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Fruit Tea Cakes

1 cup (4 1/4 ounces) Unbleached all purpose flour
1/2 cup (4 ounces) cool water
1/8 tsp. instant yeast

Mix the ingredients in a small bowl, cover, and let rest for 6-8 hour, or overnight. The mixture will become bubbly

all of the starter
3/4 cup (6 ounces) almond milk
1 "egg" replacer egg
3 1/4 cups (13 3/4 ounces) Unbleached all purpose flour
4 Tbsp. (2 ounces) earth balance butter substitute
2 Tbsp. organic cane sugar
1 tsp. instant yeast
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla extract

1/4 cup (2 ounces) dried cranberries
1/4 cup (2 ounces) dried chopped apricots
1/4 cup (2 ounces) chocolate chips
1/4 cup (2 ounces) of walnuts

1/4 cup (1 3/4) organic cane sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 Tbsp. water

Combine the dough ingredients, mixing and kneading to form a smooth, supple dough. Or prepare dough using a bread machine set on the dough cycle. Knead in the fruit, chocolate chips and nuts. Form the dough into a ball, and place it in a greased bowl. Cover and let rise in a warm place for 1 1/2 hours; it should puff significantly, but may not double.

Gently deflate the dough. Divide it into twelve 3 1/4- ounce balls. Place balls into individual paper pans or into a greased 9" x 13" pan. Cover and let rise for 1 hour. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Stir together topping ingredients until liquid, then drizzle over the dough. Bake the bread for 30-35 minutes for the individual breads, or 40-45 minutes for the pan, until golden brown. Yield: 12 tea buns.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Avanti Cafe

Tucked away amongst mainstream restaurants sits Avanti Cafe. You'll find many eateries on 17th street in Costa Mesa, but you won't find any quite like this. Avanti's repertoire appeals to many crowds and keeps them returning!

The Owners/Chefs Mark and Tanya opened Avanti in 2004. It's charm comes from the hospitality issued at entry, it's fine cuisine, and it's artsy atmosphere. Coming to Avanti feels like home away from home. Additionally, Avanti supports locally grown farmers who deliver produce that fuel their culinary creativity. The meals are fresh, handcrafted, mostly Vegetarian, and Organic when available. Mark and Tanya provide healthy dishes with an assortment of ethnic flair that marry well with the regional wine selection.

Offering both a calm daytime lunch or a hip nightspot, Avanti is the place to go. It's also a great place to bring a date for a candlelit dinner. They have themed evenings varying from Pizza and Beer night, Wine Tastings, and their ever popular Artist gallery shows with live musical performances.

A favorite dish of mine is their Shiitake Artichoke Pesto Pizzette topped with yams and sauteed greens. Their desserts are always seductive. I like to indulge in their tea cakes. It's a nice finish to a wonderful meal!

For more information on Avanti, visit their website at

Friday, February 20, 2009

Love at First Bite!

About a year ago, while visiting some friends in San Jose, we took a day trip into the San Francisco area on a rainy afternoon. We casually strolled along the streets enjoying lunch and window shopping. Our friends knew of a little shop called Miette Confiserie; a charming candy shop.

Anyone who knows me, knows I was born with a sweet tooth. This store brought out my inner child as I excitedly found some new treats to try.

While in Miette, I discovered some beautifully packaged chocolate by Charles Chocolate. Sometimes the packaging is my sole purpose for picking up a product. I was anticipating the chocolate to be as divine as it's wrapper, and chose a Ginger Chocolate bar. I am pleased to say that after I took my first nibble the wrapping and it's contents held true to my ideals. It was the right amount of sweet with a pleasent taste of ginger. Charles Chocolates are still one of my top favorite three chocolate brands!


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Rainy Day Cupcakes

Monday was wonderful! We were trapped inside our house while the sky cried for hours on end, and the clouds remained gray. What better activity to do than bake! My daughter Mallory, now three, loves the color pink. I think that Disney movies reinforce this passion with all the grand princess attire. Anyways, she insisted that the frosting be pink.

I think Red #5 or any other numeric is nothing but a shame to the world of food. Food coloring is simply NOT a food ingredient!

Mallory and I gleefully danced to, "Who Can It Be Now?" by Men At Work, while we hunted and gathered our ingredients. Meanwhile, my sixth month old daughter Margeux peacefully slept. Our recipe for the day: Maple Sweetened Vanilla Cupcakes with Rose Painted Frosting.

How did we get that pink color you ask? There is a wonderful alternative to food dye. A company called SE'ELECT, sold at Health Food stores, created coloring made by 100% natural food ingredients. The company has developed a handful of colors. Their Red/Pink is made from beet juice.

My daughter was estactic when I produced pink frosting, and equally enjoyed using my pastry bag/ tips for the first time to decorate her beloved cupcake! Thank you SE'ELECT!