Making Mooves..Without Dairy

Today, I reached a milestone.  My boss at work came to me specifically to tell me a story:

The 9th graders are going on a retreat the first week of school.  They are going to some camp where they can complete ropes courses, get to know one another better, and bond with their new teachers.  One of the ninth grade parents called the principal (my boss), telling him of her son’s severe allergy to dairy and lactose.  She warned the principal that with this upcoming trip, her son could not under any circumstances come into contact with dairy.  My boss was concerned because being a leader of the retreat, one of the fun activities he planned for the trip was to roast marshmallows and make s’mores around a fire.

The principal thought to himself, “what about s’mores is dairy??!” then realizing…GASP-MILK CHOCOLATE!  He was at first disappointed, for in his mind, the student was unable to participate in the activity.  And then it hit him…wait…there’s such a thing as VEGAN chocolate!

My life, every day.

My life, every day.

And here’s where we hit the milestone:  my boss approached me, I believe to A) confirm that there is such a thing as vegan chocolate, B) to ask me where he could find such a product, and C) to check with me to make sure all other s’mores ingredients were dairy free.

Why would I call this a milestone? Because after 2 full years of working at my school and soon to be beginning a third, my principal finally recognizes that I do not consume dairy!

Score one for me.

Score one for me.

You would think that a school in New York City should be allergy friendly, and mine is to an extent.  They always have a vegetarian option for the catered lunch and some of those options are gluten free.  However, I am one of two lactose intolerant staff members in the whole high school, so dairy free options are often forgotten.

There are often welcome back or thank you breakfasts given to staff where all I can eat is the fruit (everything is always covered in cheese or butter).  There are frequent lunch pizza parties where I’m stuck just smelling the cheese and instead eating the salad I brought from home.  There are even the occasional celebratory cupcakes, munchkins, and cookies that I have to politely refuse, even though they would get me through that last hour of the day.  There was even a thank you-end of the year-ice cream social where I had to specifically advocate for myself, asking my principal to get a box of ice pops so I could partake in the celebration.

Though it’s not a huge deal (like okay, just don’t eat that crap anyway), it does feel a little exclusive that there aren’t foods in which I can eat at the place where I work.

Which is why today was a milestone. My boss not only remembered that I was lactose intolerant, but came to me with that story, seeking me out to help.  It’s the little victories.

Do you feel left out because of your dietary restrictions?


Vacation’s All I Ever Wanted

I haven’t posted in a while, but it’s not because I have nothing to write about…I was on vacation!  Every summer my mom rents a beach house down on the Jersey Shore for a week; most of my siblings come for as long as they can, and we all get together and play games, hit the beach, and eat tons of food.  We spent a few years in LBI, and then recently switched to Wildwood for the past two summers.

We just got sharked. #bestphotoever

We just got sharked. #bestphotoever

Speaking of eating tons of food, for our trip, my sister, boyf, and I decided to cook a few dishes to take with us to eat while we were there.  We didn’t want to be stuck eating crap the entire week and made some healthy options to snack on.  We made a delish vegan spinach artichoke dip with nutritional yeast as the cheesy element, homemade bbq sweet potato “chips” (they were a little soft, but still yummy) and a cold quinoa salad.  We also planned on making popcorn as a snack.  Sure, Annie ended up bringing a giant bag of kettle chips from Costco, and boyf and I bought a bag of Old Bay Utz Potato Chips (I couldn’t resist), both of which we finished before the week was out, but I was still proud of us for trying.

dairy free vegan forgoodnesscakes

Vegan Spinach Artichoke Dip…good hot or cold!

I also thought it would be fun to bake some treats while I was there.  The house we rent has a full kitchen, and I thought it would be nice to have some dairy-free desserts to munch on.  I didn’t want to bake the treats before the trip; I didn’t think they would last that many days, and part of the fun was to bake it while on vacation.  So, I came up with a plan.

I decided on two recipes: my super soft, pillowy cinnamon sugar doughnuts (taken and adapted from Ina Garten’s doughnut recipe), and my tried and true jumbo blueberry muffins (taken and adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction, one of my favorite websites).  I ended up pre-mixing the dry ingredients for each recipe before I left for the trip, putting each mix in a ziploc bag.  I then mixed all the wet ingredients together, except for the eggs and the butter.  I figured I would buy eggs and Earth Balance when I got to Wildwood and would finish the recipe there.  I also decided to do that because the muffin recipe instructed me to cream the eggs and the sugar together, and so therefore I wanted to wait until I was about to bake them.  I put the wet ingredients in water bottles because they had the best seals.  I also packed my doughnut and muffin pans and off I went to vacation!

You've cat to be kitten me with this meme.

You’ve cat to be kitten me with this meme.

The results were delicious.  I realized, however, that the beach house did not have mixing bowl!  So, I had to mix the batter in a large pot.  I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to mix sticky batter in anything other than a mixing bowl, but it’s hard to get batter out of the bottom of a pot.  The doughnuts were a little soft and sticky, and I wonder if that’s because the wet ingredients sat together for a long period of time? I also was not used to that oven, so who knows.

I could just eat that whole plate right meow.

I could just eat that whole plate right meow.


The muffins were yummy as well.  My mom raved about them, and ate an entire muffin in one sitting (sorry, mom.) The muffins were great also because we were able to have some leftover for the 3 hour drive back to New York.

dairy free

Just bursting with fresh blueberries! What a way to start a morning.

Vacation was great, and I’m so glad I was able to bring my baking with me.  I thought it was going to be a lot of trouble and work, but actually having the pre-mixed dry and wet ingredients really sped the process along.  I might try more pre-mixed things in the future…

Getting Ready for Fall

Okay, I know, I know, it’s only the first day of August.

And there’s still a lot of vacation time before school starts back up again where I’ll be lost in the abyss of grading papers, dealing with students, and planning out lessons.

I'm pretty sure I've said this A LOT

I’m pretty sure I’ve said this A LOT.


However, recently I sold an order of vegan pumpkin donuts through my Etsy shop, and had leftover pumpkin puree that I didn’t want to go to waste.  My mom wanted some sort of baked dessert for a mid-afternoon meeting she was going to have, so I decided to use the rest of the puree so my ingredients wouldn’t spoil.

I was already making her coffee cake muffins (see my last post) so I didn’t want to make her donut muffins as well…I have this thing about needing to present treats in different shapes/forms, especially if they are in the same order.  So I decided to take my recently discovered vegan sugar free pumpkin donut recipe and play around with it.

I made the batter.  I could have used my donut pan and made actual donuts, but it only makes 6 donuts at a time.  That means to make a full dozen, I have to make 6, wait for them to cook, then take them out of the pan and make the second batch.  I’m exhausted just typing that out.  Why not just get another donut pan? Because I’m lazy and cheap and don’t make donuts that often…well, I guess I do now.

They learned their laziness from me

They learned their laziness from me.


Okay, so I made the batter.  Instead of making muffins, I decided to try it in a loaf pan.  Batter is batter, right? So it should be fine. Right?

The dough did not really rise.  It kind of just sat in the loaf pan.  It took a lot longer to bake, also, and I was worried it was going to stay raw on the inside.  (I also made this at 6 in the morning, so half the time I was delirious with sleep, running back and forth from the oven to the couch, allowing myself 10 more minutes of rest each time I checked the oven).

Finally, out it came.  I quickly made a cinnamon spice glaze to go over this dessert which I am now calling Pumpkin Pie Cake.  It was dense and thick like vegan desserts sometimes are, with a very concentrated maple pumpkin taste. It wasn’t light or fluffy like a cake would be. I would say it was more like a brownie, kinda fudgy.  The glaze really saved it-I mixed powdered sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and a little bit of coconut milk and put it in the fridge to harden a bit. It soaked into the cake and gave it a great fall flavor.

Here’s how it turned out:

vegan pumpkin pie cake

Looks like meatloaf…tastes like cake!

Close up of that cinnamon glaze. mmmm finger lickin' good

Close up of that cinnamon glaze. mmmm finger lickin’ good


Everyone said it was delicious, and it was pretty tasty.  It really reminded me of fall, and once I sliced it, it looked even  more appealing.  Though I think it bore  a serious resemblance to meatloaf, it is a vegan pumpkin cake that I would definitely make again.

Aren't you just ready for fall?

Aren’t you just ready for fall?

Just Mayo-Just a Perfect Egg Replacer

You did not read that title incorrectly.  I meant it- Just Mayo, Hampton Creek’s completely cholesterol free (and vegan, btw) mayonnaise, is a delicious egg replacer.  (plus I think their logo is super cute)

It's a plant in the egg instead of a chick...because it's made from plants!

It’s a plant in the egg…because it’s made from plants! Get it?

Now you might be saying: hold up.  Why in the world would you ever use mayonnaise instead of eggs?


Well, let me tell you.


Boyf’s brother, Clip, has been working for Hampton Creek for a little less than a year now and has been boasting of this mayo since he began.  Being vegan, Clip talked of Just Mayo’s delicious taste, its health benefits, and its popularity. He is a top seller of Just Mayo, and can get vegans and non-vegans alike to love this product.  (Okay, shameless plug over).

Recently, Clip gave me a few jars to try.  In addition to their regular tangy mayo flavor, Just Mayo also makes Chipotle, Garlic, and Sriracha flavors, which I have yet to taste.

This is my fridge right now, plus some giant containers.

This is my fridge right now, plus some giant containers.

I quickly found myself with an excess of mayonnaise.  Now there’s a sentence I never wanted to utter.  (I’m not huge on condiments…I HATE ketchup.) Coincidentally, my mom was ordering some sort of breakfast item for a morning meeting she was having at her office, and I was out of eggs.

Clip and his gf told me that they had made cake with Just Mayo as an egg replacer, but hadn’t ventured out into any other type of baked goods. In their experience, the mayo made the cake super moist, but a bit oily.  Just Mayo’s website also offers a chocolate cake recipe, but no other baked items.  I was determined to experiment.

So I put two and two together…and made coffee cake muffins with Just Mayo instead of eggs! I googled the ratio of mayo to egg and found that 3 tablespoons of mayo can substitute one egg.  (I’m not sure who discovered that, but pretty cool).

I used Mark Bittman’s recipe for coffee cake muffins.  The best part was making the brown sugar, cinnamon, and butter mixture and mixing that INTO the batter as well as putting it on top of the muffin.  Mmm. I love Bittman.  Never been disappointed with any of his recipes.

Doesn't this guy look like he knows about food??!

Doesn’t this guy look like he knows about food??!

The batter looked whipped almost, like mousse.  Chocolate mayonnaise mousse.

The result?  Delicious, dense, tangy vegan coffee cake muffins. The mayo worked like a charm, binding the batter and producing a muffin that was not too heavy (like I often find vegan muffins to be).  I’m not sure if telling non-vegans the secret ingredient is appetizing, so I’m keeping it a secret.  Knowing that the mayo was there, I could definitely taste the tang from the vinegar, but still delish.

Just look at the inside of that muffin. So moist, so delicious.

Just look at the inside of that muffin. So moist, so delicious.

vegan coffee cake muffins

Close up of that brown sugar/butter/cinnamon topping. mmmm

Vegan coffee cake muffins

Here they are all on the counter.

Have you ever made anything with mayo? Share your story!


Etsy, Here I Come!


Love reading my posts?  Do you often find the tiniest bit of drool seeping out of your mouth when you look at my pictures? Wish you or someone you know could taste the creations I make?


Now, you can taste (almost) everything I make…. through my new Etsy shop!  

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The Vegan Scone Adventure

Last week, my mom ordered a dozen scones for a morning work meeting she was holding at her office. I was excited, as I hadn’t tried scones before, and was determined to make them vegan.  I wanted to see if it could be done.

Almost everything I read about scones says that the fat in the batter is really important, and that’s why most scones use heavy cream, buttermilk, milk or cream, you know, loads and loads of dairy that would leave me sick for days.  Scones are known for their rich, buttery taste and fluffy, flaky texture, something you usually only obtain from real, fatty butter.

I always stayed away from scones, never attempting them because I knew that it would be hard to achieve the texture everyone knows and loves with dairy substitutes.

But I was curious.  So I looked online for some recipes, and found this one that uses coconut cream.  I was intrigued-I know coconut cream has the ability to whip like whipped cream, which is the same thing that heavy cream does, so it had to be the same, right?

I tried the recipe.  The ingredient list called for canned coconut milk (cold).  I found the coconut milk at my local fruit and vegetable mart, but for some reason, did not pay attention to the little parentheses telling me to refrigerate the can.

Thinking nothing of it, I made the batter with the room temperature coconut milk, and it looked nothing like the picture on the blog.  The batter itself was tasty, but definitely not thick enough to mold and form into a loaf like the recipe instructed. It was soft almost like a cake batter.

At this point, there was no turning back.

Here was the result.

Here's the recipe's version...

Here’s the recipe’s version…


vegan scones

..and here’s mine. womp womp.

photo 3

More like a breakfast cookie than a scone.  The texture was soft and chewy like a cookie, but it tasted more like a scone.  Stumped, I went to boyf and asked his opinion.

Instantly, he realized I had not used cold coconut milk.  “Oh, well, there’s your problem.  Coconut milk reacts very differently when it’s cold.”




So I rapidly chilled my coconut milk in the freezer.  Have you ever done the trick of wrapping a wet paper towel around the can and sticking it in the back of the freezer?

The second batch was better; the batter was thicker in consistency for sure.  However, it still was too wet to be molded like the original recipe.  I added a bunch of flour to the batter to try and thicken it up.

The result was more like a scone, but I guess I would call it more like a cake.

I mean, this LOOKS more like a scone, right?

I mean, this LOOKS more like a scone, right?

Maybe the coconut wasn’t cold enough? That’s my only guess.  Is it really just about having full fat and eggs to hold it all together?

The breakfast cookies and “scones” were delish, but not what I was expecting.  Unfortunately, I think that is a common theme with my vegan baking.

What do you think? Ever attempted scones? Leave me a comment below!

This sums up my life.


Thanks to my sister Annie for reminding me this exists, and suggesting I put it up here!

Working my butt(er) off

In my last post, I wrote about how I made 5 desserts in 4 days.  I didn’t write, however, about how I proceeded to eat those desserts every day in the last week.

A few days ago, I was asked to make a peanut butter chocolate dessert for my mom’s co-worker.  So I made THE peanut butter chocolate dessert: peanut butter chocolate squares with a graham cracker crust.

I mean...come on.

I mean…come on.

I did some research online and found this Buzzfeed article chronicling the most amazing peanut butter desserts on the internet.  That led me to the peanut butter squares.

I can't resist. Must. eat. now.

I can’t resist. Must. eat. now.

Naturally, I wanted to make sure that the recipe would be successful, so I just HAD to make myself a batch as well…in the form of a frozen peanut butter pie.

...and it's vegan, too!

…and it’s vegan, too!

You know, for quality assurance purposes.

He knows what I'm talking about

He knows what I’m talking about

The results were delicious, (though the crust did not stay together as much as I wanted it to; maybe more butter is needed next time) and the pie was rich and filling.  So boyf and I ate some, and then we ate some more.  And then after the third or fourth day of eating peanut butter pie, I had sufficiently broken out with a few blemishes and stuffed to the brim with desserts. I felt gross, fat, and sluggish, though I was happily stuffing my face night after night.

I felt like Miranda from Sex and the City.  You know that episode where she makes a chocolate cake and proceeds to eat the ENTIRE thing? At one point she even throws it out! …and then eats it out of the garbage can.

Though I did not subject myself to dumpster diving, I lacked all control when it came to that peanut butter pie.  It was only once I brought it to a family gathering that I could unload it on someone else that I finally felt rid of it (my unsuspecting grandmother has no idea how much deliciousness she is in for).

So here’s my topic for today: how can I be a baker and not eat everything last bite of what I make? How can I bake my butt(er) off to my heart’s content and how much time will I have to spend working my butt(er) off at the gym?

Now I’m not completely obsessed with being skinny..for me, it’s more about being healthy and fit.  I understand that the amount of work I’m willing to put in at the gym and the amount of food I put in my mouth directly corresponds to the way I look.  I eat healthy most of the time, but, well, you know, I HAVE to know what my stuff tastes like, so sometimes I have to taste the batter, the finished product, and maybe a couple of extra items that are leftover…or I have to make myself a batch, just to check 🙂

Either way, I feel like I am in a constant battle of wanting to bake myself into a frenzy and not wanting to eat everything I create.  When school is in session this dilemma becomes easier, as I bring the desserts into work. Teachers and students LOVE free food. But in the summer, this is harder. It’s just me and boyf and my family (my sister loves/hates when I bake because she eats it all, too).

Have you ever had this issue? Wanting to make something delicious for the fun of it, but not necessarily wanting to eat it all?

Leave me a comment below!

Grief Counseling

This past week, I had a death in my family.  My 88 year-old maternal grandfather passed away from illness.  He had cancer and was in hospice, and we all knew he didn’t have that much longer on Earth.  This was the fourth major death I have experienced in my life, and this one was different in that it was the first one my family and I had time to prepare for (though I don’t know how much you can ever prepare for it).  I was running around doing multiple Costco trips, getting supplies for the lunch after the funeral services, and my mom (being lactose intolerant) asked me to bake desserts that were both comforting and dairy-free.

Grandpa and me!

Grandpa and me!


So, in the past 4 days, I made 5 desserts.

It reminded me a lot of Izzie from Grey’s Anatomy.  Back in season 2 of Grey’s, Izzie basically kills Denny, and then copes with her grief by baking hundreds of muffins.

I wonder if those muffins are dairy free? ...probly no

I wonder if those muffins are dairy free? …probly no


That’s what I was like. Baking, baking, baking.  But it actually did help.  It was an hour of quiet where I could just focus on following the recipe step by step, not thinking about anything else other than just making something delicious.

So here’s what I made:

Day 1: (4th of July) Peach and Nectarine Crumble

dairy free peach and nectarine pie

Doesn’t this just SCREAM summer?

Recipe by: (one of my new favorite websites and places to get recipes)

What makes this recipe great: THE BOURBON

After slicing the peaches (and I added nectarines), I mixed the fruit with almond extract (YUM), lemon juice, maple syrup, and bourbon.  I used honey bourbon..even better.  The topping was a mix of brown sugar, pecans, cinnamon, flour and butter.  I liked that there was no white sugar in the dish at all.  Fans of this dish told me they loved that the peaches/nectarines were fresh, and that they still had the skin on.  Apparently a lot of pies remove the skin or used canned fruit…yuck!

dairy-free, vegan, forgoodnesscakesny

My official food taster literally licking her plate clean.

Day 2: Blueberry Cobbler

I don't even need a plate. I could eat this right out of the baking dish.

I don’t even need a plate. I could eat this right out of the baking dish.

Recipe by: Mark Bittman’s How To Cook Everything -best book of all time

What makes this recipe great: the simplicity

It’s just berries tossed in sugar with biscuit dough dropped on top.  So easy, so delicious.  My sister in law said this is her new top favorite and surpasses my upside down apple pecan pie, a pie I make only once a year, but one that she talks about all year round!  This is just easy, comforting, tasty dessert.

vegan, dairy free, forgoodnesscakesny

With a scoop of vegan ice cream?? gasp. heaven.


Day 3: Marble Pound Cake

marble pound cake, dairy free, forgoodnesscakes

This is the only piece I would allow myself to have!

Recipe by: The Baker Chick

What makes this recipe great: um, helloooo it’s pound cake.

Although mine did not turn out exactly like Baker Chick’s (I mean, her pictures look amazing), the taste of this cake was AMAZING.  My batter looked a little thinner than hers, so I wasn’t able to do a checkerboard pattern of chocolate and vanilla dough like she did.  I did the dump and swirl method, layering the vanilla and chocolate and then swirling all together.  Still delicious.  My mom said next time I should try to figure out how to make the chocolate fudgier, but this cake was gone in like a day.

marble pound cake, delish, forgoodnesscakes

Oh, mama.

Day 4: Lemon Sugar Cookies

Recipes by: Taste of Home Magazine

What makes this recipe great: The lemon!

I’ve made these before, both dairy-free and vegan (see the weekend of 6 dozen cookies), and they are surprisingly delish.  I’ve blogged about them before, so I won’t say too much here.  I’ll just leave you with this picture:

Lemon Sugar Cookies

Can’t get enough of these!



Also Day 4: Chocolate Chip Banana Cake

I mean, just look at this

I mean, just look at this.

Recipe by:

What makes this recipe great: THE RUM

This cake is so banana-y (is that a word?), so chocolatey, so full of dense, banana flavor, the rum is the ingredient that elevates it all.  Though moist, thick, and intense in flavor, the cake is not heavy, and is one that doesn’t even need a frosting.  My family couldn’t believe how tasty it was. I would definitely make this one again.

Another tiny slice. Sigh.

Another tiny slice. Sigh.

So there you have it.  5 desserts in 4 days.

Now I need some serious detox.

Sweating for Sweets

This week it was hot.  The temp outside was 92.5 degrees.  As I was typing this, I was sitting directly in front of my fan, cold drink very close by, trying not to touch my computer too much because it was as hot as a heating blanket.  Even the kitties were sleeping spread out so as not to touch themselves. Poor babies.

Too much fur to be curled up on a day this hot

Too much fur to be curled up on a day this hot


Thankfully, the rain came through and cooled everything down.  However, my problem this week was that during this heat wave I had an incredible itch to bake something.  I had completed my weekend of 6 dozen cookies, and I wanted to try something else. Pie had been next on my list of desserts to make, but I desperately did not want to use my oven.  What could I do?

Boyf suggested a no-bake dessert.  Usually in my experience, no bake is either something you make with pre-packaged ingredients that you just put together (no thank you, preservatives), or a dish made with cream cheese or cream (we all know how I feel about cream).  Also, a lot of vegan no-bake desserts I see are not really desserts at all; they are “healthy” cookies made with dates, dried fruit, or oats, and don’t always satisfy that dessert craving.

Thus began my online research for no-bake desserts.   I didn’t see anything too interesting.

And then it hit me.


I have an entire cookbook of just slow cooker recipes, and it has a dessert section! It actually is Crock Pot’s recipe book…now with “Splash proof pages!” I also just happened to have a bag of frozen mixed berries that was rapidly getting freezer burned.  How fortuitous! I decided to make a mixed berry cobbler…in the crock pot!  My first crock pot dessert ever! And it was vegan!



I love my slow cooker, but sadly it doesn’t get that much use.  I’ve made a few things in there, but the problem I have with the slow cooker is that you have to plan in advance to cook in it-you need at least 6 hours for something to cook, and I can’t think that far ahead. Usually boyf and I figure out dinner an hour before we are ready to eat.

The other issue I have with the slow cooker is that I KNOW everything made in there produces a weird smell.  Boyf tells me I’m nuts and that I’m just traumatized from all those times growing up when my mom made weird beef stew in her slow cooker.  But I KNOW it to be to true.  I was nervous that whatever I made would have that same odor.

Anyhoo, I was determined to make something, and the cobbler sounded like a good idea. Setting up the ingredients was not difficult at all.  I mixed the berries with corn starch (I didn’t have tapioca like the recipe required, but read online that corn starch would be a good replacement), sugar, and lemon zest, and put that all in the slow cooker.  Then I mixed flour, brown sugar, baking powder, coconut milk, and melted butter, and put that in scoops on top of the berries. Then, (and here’s the best part) I set it on low, and left the kitchen!

3 binge-watching episodes of Scandal, here I come!

3 binge-watching episodes of Scandal, here I come!


I wasn’t sure how it was going to come out.  Would the cobbler topping get that same crispy, flaky, melt in your mouth texture you would get if it was baked in the oven?  What would the consistency of the berries be like? One thing I knew (and it’s my rule of thumb…or rather, tongue): if the batter tastes good, the product should taste good!  The batter was so good I was literally licking the bowl clean. So I was hopeful.

4 hours later…

It ain't pretty, but it sure tastes good!

It ain’t pretty, but it sure tastes good!

It wasn’t the prettiest thing I had ever made.  The dough topping looked a little dry and rubbery, and was thicker than I thought it was going to be.  It took up most of the slow cooker. The dough didn’t get brown like it would have in the oven, but the taste of the dough was pretty good.  It wasn’t that sweet (there was only brown sugar in the dough, not white sugar), but it went well with the berries. The berries were (to quote Guy Fieri) MONEY. Sweet but not too sweet, soft and smooth, but not too much liquid.  It probably would have been amazing with a scoop of ice cream, but all in all I would say pretty successful for my first slow cooker dessert.

Have you ever made any dessert in your slow cooker?

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