Keep the peanut butter coming!

Made these last night to satisfy two different orders. One batch was my regular vegan peanut butter squares, and one batch I figured out how to make not only gluten free, but soy free as well! Enjoy your Wednesday and check out these amazing peanut butter squares on my etsy shop!
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Changing Lives…One Carnival at a Time.

Last week, I had an amazing opportunity to sell my baked goods at a carnival.  My dad is the parish manager at his church, Sts. Peter and Paul in Mt. Vernon, and they were holding their annual church carnival.  They had all the typical carnival fare: rides, cotton candy, funnel cake, and…my booth!

Got my own banner and everything!

Got my own banner and everything!

In preparation for the four days of carnival fun, I feverishly baked my butt(er) off! For the first night, I made my famous chocolate peanut butter squares,

My famous chocolate peanut butter squares

you gotta try these.

apple hand pies, pumpkin bread slices, and pumpkin chocolate chip muffins.  I sold out of the peanut butter squares on the first night.  In fact, I think I ended up making peanut butter pie each day prior to showing at the booth!

Apple hand pies...Made with freshly picked apples  from the orchard!

Apple hand pies…Made with freshly picked apples from the orchard!

Other nights included gluten free-super-fudgy-brownies, pumpkin chocolate chip cookies, mini apple pies, and gluten free snickerdoodles.

Gluten free brownies...the fudgiest brownies you'll ever taste.

Gluten free brownies…the fudgiest brownies you’ll ever taste.

Gluten free snickerdoodles...so amazing.

Gluten free snickerdoodles…so amazing.

How cute are these??

How cute are these??

 

It was a great experience.  I got to chat with people who were dairy-free themselves, and we commiserated on the lack of dessert options in our neighborhood.  It was also pretty cool seeing how excited they got that I could provide exactly what they were looking for.

The most interesting part of the four days was the many conversations I had with people, trying to convince them that my dairy-free desserts tasted exactly the same as full milk, full butter treats (and they really do, seriously).  I even provided samples most days, and there were lots of surprised looks.

Some people really could not understand why anyone would want to be dairy or allergy free. That boggled my mind.  I know there are people out there who cannot tolerate certain foods.  However, I think that some of those people eat them anyway!  In the past when I’ve talked to people (colleagues, friends, etc.) about my dairy intolerance, I occasionally get the response, “yeah, I can’t really eat dairy.  But I could never cut out cheese or ice cream.”

One gentleman in particular refused to believe that my vegan peanut butter squares tasted good. (He also misread the sign I put there, thinking that ‘vegan’ meant ‘veggie’.  Veggie peanut butter squares? Ok, that’s not too appetizing, but learn how to read, dude.)

You tell him, Michelle.

You tell him, Michelle.

I eventually convinced him to buy a brownie, and he walked away before I could see his first bite.  I think it’s just interesting that outside the big city, people are still a little behind on the allergy-free baking.

Overall, the carnival was a success.  I made some money,  got my name out there, and maybe opened some eyes on a whole healthier way to eat dessert.

Blogging about a Blog…Am I getting too meta?

Okay, so I’ve been slacking.

My last blog post was in August.  Today is the third day of October. Yikes.

I wish.

I wish.

…But I’ve been busy!  In the last two months I’ve gotten back to the daily grind of teaching 11th grade English, filled Etsy and other customer orders, had a booth for four days at a carnival where I got to showcase my dairy free delicacies, (more about that later), and then quickly caught a cold!  So, I have a lot to share with you.  Let me work backwards in chronological order.

Today, my Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie was reviewed on a blog called “Confessions of a Northern Belle” .  Let me pause there for a second.

MY pie. Got reviewed.  By a blogger!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Yes, that’s right.  Now it’s not just my family members who think my stuff is tasty. Other people, whom I’ve never met, like my treats, too!

It all happened by surprise, actually.  “Confessions” author, Caitlin, found me randomly on Etsy.  She recently became dairy free and was looking to see if any desserts could satisfy her sweet tooth while not causing a stir in her stomach.  I was happy to oblige, and promptly sent her a peanut butter pie.

Remember these bad boys?

Remember these bad boys?

She and her husband loved it, and like most people who try my stuff, could not believe it was dairy-free! You should definitely check out the review, and her blog.

Here’s the review in full: http://www.confessionsofanorthernbelle.com/2014/10/goodness-cakes-dairy-free-pie/

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!

 

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