Saturday, December 17, 2011

Dilly Stew with Rosemary Dumplings 5/5 Spoons

Whoa, totally back. Hi again. Although I have about 15-20 recipes I have probably made since the last time I really posted, this is the most recent and really worth writing about.

I have a fall back dumpling soup but it was not vegan and that's what I was looking for. Lo and behold the PPK came through for me! It's nice to make a totally vegan meal and with soup it is often really easy to do. This recipe makes enough for 3 super hungry mouths perhaps with some left over for the next day. The only complaint I have is the addition of the fresh herbs. I love fresh herbs but I really think it was lost in the heartiness of the soup. Next time I might use dried dill and thyme. Herbs are great but I'll save them to finish off a soup, or knead into bread or sprinkled over pasta. Here are my notes:

-- I love the way brown mustard lends its flavor to a dumpling soup, so I squeezed about 1 T. in with the carrots/roux mixture.
-- I didn't use baby carrots, I used regular ones. I think it's pretty self-explanatory to use whatever you have on hand.
-- Once again, I would probably try out the dried herbs (maybe like 1 1/2 t. of dill to 1 t. of thyme and adjust as I go?)
-- Instead of navy beans, I used Great Northern (white) beans. I think any white bean would nicely here.
-- As for the dumplings.... I was kind of scared to use so much rosemary, but don't be. I only used 1/2 T. and it was not overwhelming. Do not use fresh rosemary, it is far too medicinal tasting for such a light broth.
-- I always use So Delicious Unsweetened Coconut Milk now (and love it!) instead of soy/almond milk. I like that is thicker and really doesn't taste like much.

(Photo courtesy of the PPK)

Don't be like me and serve this with sourdough bread.... because you will want to burst! But in a great way. I have a problem stopping at one bowl of soup and I plan on having another for lunch today. This was hearty and cruelty free! My two favorite things in a soup. I think the beans were a nice touch even if they weren't necessary. Once the beans start to simmer with those dumplings the soup became very thick and stew-like.

It feels so good to be back and stay tuned for the One Year Anniversary No Meat Mama giveaway (after the holidays)! No matter how you celebrate, I hope you have a great holiday that is spent with the ones you love and is filled with delicious food.

Thursday, December 15, 2011


I really don't want No Meat Mama to fall by the wayside!

I promise it hasn't but life gets crazy, ya know? I'm still always cooking and baking and loving life, so I promise you things will be happening again here soon.

Speaking of that, my blog turned a year old on December 6th! Yay for it! I will be having a giveaway soon (once I figure out what it is!) and will post about it here.

Thank you for all for reading and watch this video of a drunk Sandra Lee to tide you over for the holidays

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Low Fat Fudgy Brownies 5/5 Spoons

I was thinking the other day, "When did I really start cooking and baking?" And I couldn't even really answer myself. When I started cutting meat out of my life at about 21 even then I rarely made meals or baked. I was in school and working full-time at a bagel shop so I ate a lot of well.... bagels. I ate a lot of pancakes, Kraft Mac n Cheese and frozen pizza. I don't remember there being all that many veggies going on in my diet. The thought of that now totally grosses me out but somehow I maintained my existence on alcohol, carbs and no sleep. Moving to Chicago has pretty much changed my cooking existence. I baked and cooked long before being here but now it is my outlet, it is my daily affirmation. Somehow this is all leading to me talking about the most perfect Low-Fat Brownies I've ever had. I just thought it was important to give a little back story of my food world, even if it is just a small snippet.

Can I say that I've spent a really long time trying to find the PERFECT low-fat brownie recipe? As much as I love butter and sugar and chocolate, with how often I crave desserts I can't eat a stick of butter every day. America's Test Kitchen ran an episode about lightening up chocolate desserts and although I don't think Chris and the other cooks were all that excited about the episode (they missed their butter!), it was pretty good overall.

(Photo courtesy of America's Test Kitchen Feed)

I didn't get any of my own photos of these brownies because well.... my roommate and I ate them within like a 24 hour period. I couldn't even believe after all the time I've attempted lower fat brownies that I finally had found a winner. Needless to say I had to "celebrate" my victory by eating 1/2 a pan. It only seemed logical. These were fluffy but fudge like at the same time. They had a really nice chocolate flavor without being too sweet. Here are my notes:

-- Pretty sure I put about 1/2 t. kosher salt in the mix. I like my chocolate treats on the salty side.
-- I don't have chocolate syrup on hand, like ever, so I just used an extra tablespoon of butter. Yup, more butter, but it's much less than you would find in any other brownie recipe!
-- 1 cup of sugar? No thanks. I used a 1/2 cup.
-- We always have fat free sour cream, so that's what I used, it worked well of course.

(Photo courtesy of Rose's Recipes)

So easy and so good. These are great to bring for a treat to work or a family gathering or like just bring them on the train and eat them with a fork. Or plop them on the seat next to you in your car and grab it with your hands and shove it in your mouth. You are smart people, you know what is best for you.

Up next, more America's Test Kitchen goodness (and much, much more butter) with Monkey Bread!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Black Pepper "Chicken" 5/5 Spoons

Chicago is a food town. Now I think most big cities call themselves "food towns" but seriously, Chicago? We rule. Now a lot of it is very meaty but that is the Midwest and I barely even notice it because of the sheer amount of vegetarian and vegan options there are here. One thing I was missing moving here was some damn good Chinese food. Honestly..... how is there no good Chinese food here?!?! I've found much better stuff in my hometown in Wisconsin. I'm pretty basic.... I just want General Tso's tofu or maybe some vegetable lo mein. Every time I've ordered either one they have been either really inedible, disappointing or just plain gross.

It is true that necessity is the mother of invention and I'm not saying that I invented Chinese food (wow, I really hope you wouldn't think I would say that, haha). After having thrown away so much nasty take out Chinese food, I realized I can make this stuff myself. Duh Jackie, right? Remember when I made Sesame Tofu with Broccoli? So good. Now we have Black Pepper Seitan "Chicken"! So I've never had this dish before but my roommate suggested I make it so she can have a meat free version of it. And I'm willing to accommodate meat eaters with some non-meat options to show how easy and awesome it can be to be meat-free. This is my own recipe with some inspiration from here.

(Looks pretty good, huh?)

Okay, so I wrote the directions out and they are lengthy but I promise that this is not a hard thing to do. There are just a lot of steps. I want to "school" you on vital wheat gluten (or seitan or "wheat meat") for a moment just in case you have no idea what it is or where it comes from. I buy mine online and love Arrowhead Mills but I know that Bob's Red Mill and King Arthur Flour makes one as well. You can get them at most Whole Foods, health food stores and often times in the natural/organic section of your standard supermarket. It can be pricey but it lasts awhile. It is worth it to make your own seitan.

(Cartoon courtesy of Bizarro)

Black Pepper Seitan “Chicken”

Serves 4

1 c. vital wheat gluten
Scant 1 c. water (I use just a bit less than a full cup because I like my gluten firmer; too much water makes it squishier)

Mix together and form a ball with your hands. Knead a few times just to make sure everything is cohesive. If your dough is more firm then you shouldn’t have to knead it quite as much. Set aside while you make the broth.

4 c. water
½ c. nutritional yeast
¼ c. soy sauce or tamari
1 t. kosher salt
2 t. onion powder
1 t. garlic powder

Turn your heat on high before throwing all the ingredients into a large pot and whisk until fully incorporated. You want to get this broth to a boil before throwing in your seitan chunks. Speaking of that, take a sharp knife and slice your seitan into whatever shape you want. I like random chunks that you can easily eat in one bite, but do whatever you like! Once your broth is boiling (and smells amazing, trust me) gently place your seitan around the pot. Don’t pile them all up together because you don’t want it to stick. Once all your seitan is in the pot, stir it around to make sure everyone is getting along nicely. Lid your pot most of the way (I always leave a crack on the side to let some steam out) and turn the stove down to low. You want it simmering but not boiling like crazy. Check every ten minutes and stir to make sure nothing is sticking to anything else. The seitan will puff up so don’t freak out, you didn’t do anything wrong. Let it simmer for about 50-60 minutes until most of the broth is absorbed into the seitan. Drain the liquid and scoop out the seitan onto a plate and let cool on the counter.

Get a large sauce pan and turn it to med-high and cover the bottom with oil. This is not an exact science but take about 3-4 T. of cornstarch and a dash of flour with a pinch of salt, pepper and paprika and shake it in a covered container or zip top bag. Take about 1/3 of your seitan and toss it in the starch mix to coat. Make sure to shake off the excess before frying in the hot pan. Fry until it is light brown on both sides and repeat the starch coating for the other 2/3 of the seitan. Place the chunks on a plate with paper towel and let cool.

Once this part is done, wipe down the pan and turn off the heat while you prep the veggies and sauce.

1 red bell pepper, sliced
1 yellow onion, sliced


¼ c. soy sauce or tamari
2 T. cornstarch
1 t. rice wine vinegar
1 t. freshly ground black pepper (I may have added about 1/3 t. more…. But I like things very peppery)
1 t. sugar
1 garlic clove, minced fine or pressed
¾ c. vegetable broth or water

Whisk everything but vegetable broth together and set aside.

Get your pan hot again on a high flame. Put about 2-3 T. of oil into your pan and toss your veggies in, they should sizzle like mad! You want to get some nice dark color on your veggies but not burn them of course. Toss the veggies about for a few minutes until they are tender. Empty your sauce into the pan along with the broth. Whisk the sauce in to make sure there are no starchy clumps in your food. It will get thick but just keep moving everything around for 1-2 minutes. Place your seitan in the pan and coat with the sauce. Now serve with some rice and enjoy!

Now if you got through reading all of this, congratulations! It looks like a big deal but it's really not. You just have to have the forethought to make seitan; which you can do up to a week in advance and just keep covered in your fridge. I encourage you to make your own take out-style foods because you control the ingredients and what is going in the end product. That is very important to me and I really hope it is to you!

Next up, America's Test Kitchen Ultimate (my own words) Low-Fat Brownies! These are my go to brownies now.... more on that later.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Adopt-A-Turkey Project

I adopted Antoinette! Isn't she sweet?:

I don't have a lot of money but I feel as if what I do have should be put forth in helping animals live safe and healthy lives. If you have a spare $30 to adopt a turkey, please do it. And let's have Tofurkey for Thanksgiving! Take care everyone. : )

Red Velvet Waffles w/ Cream Cheese Maple Sauce and Toasted Coconut 4/5 Spoons

OK, so it is not the weekend anymore, but here I am!

I have this insane idea to make pancakes/waffles out of all of my favorite desserts and luckily people around this beautiful world have the same idea as well. I've made Vegan Carrot Cake Pancakes and now Red Velvet Waffles (next will be Lemon Poppyseed Pancakes!) I served this with my standard tofu scramble (Thanks Kris Anne!) and some MorningStar Farms Veggie Bacon.

(My picture of my 2nd waffle.... I was too hungry to take a picture of the 1st one! That is the cream cheese maple sauce and toasted coconut on top.)

Here are my notes:

-- I was astounded that someone would use 1 1/4 cups of sugar in these waffles. These made 6 big waffles for me, so that's like a little less of 1/4 c. of sugar in EACH WAFFLE. Sick. I used 1/2 c. and I think it was plenty. I wanted the cocoa flavor to shine through and I was putting sweet syrup on top, so I recommend you don't go above 1/2 c. unless you love really sweet things.
-- Make sure to have your buttermilk at room temperature. Even though my butter was melted and cooled, my buttermilk was cold so it kind of turned the fat in the butter into a weird flaky mess. I could whisk most of it out but you don't want to over-whisk waffles so just a note for y'all.
-- For my cream cheese maple sauce, I didn't use their recipe. I left 4 ounces of cream cheese out at room temp most of the day. I warmed up the cheese in the microwave for about 40 seconds and added about 2 T. confectioner's sugar, 3-4 T. pure maple syrup and a dash of milk to combine. Just mix with a fork until it is smooth and you are able to drizzle it on your waffles.
-- As for the coconut, it was kind of an after thought. I put about 1/2 c. of coconut in a pan and toasted it on low-medium heat and stirred it frequently. It takes about 10 minutes, just keep an eye on it, because it can burn quickly.

(Photo courtesy of The Spellbound Cafe)

These were really delicious. I wouldn't say they were perfect because I think they could use some tweaks. Not sure what but I'll mull it over and let you all know. They had a great cake like texture but didn't necessarily crisp up the way I wanted them to in the waffle iron. It might have something to do with my really old iron and not with the recipe though. Even though they were a bit floppy they had a really nice cocoa flavor and worked SO WELL with the cream cheese maple topping and toasted coconut. I will make this again with some minor adjustments. If you have fantastic waffle and pancake recipes you think I should try, please let me know!

Next up.... Spinach and Artichoke Spaghetti Bake! (My own recipe.... ooh la la.)

Thursday, October 13, 2011


So, I know I was going to review Red Velvet Waffles with Coconut Cream Cheese Topping first but I just wanted to come here and throw out some of the recipes I can't wait to make. I always have a long list of things I'm dying to make, but these are my top 5 as of right now. My stomach is just not as big as my desire to make all this food! Here we go (and these aren't any order, I'm just listing them off):

#1: Sweet Corn Arepa Pancakes

(Photo courtesy of roboppy's Flickr page)

I've never had an arepa.... until this morning. Well let me say that I had an arepa style pancakes at Tweet (my favorite brunch spot in Chicago) and they were dynamite. They were covered with creme fraiche, soy chorizo, over easy eggs, avocado, some sort of amazing hot sauce and black beans. Every bite was a dream. I want to re-create some of those same flavors at home with this recipe. It calls for some orange juice which I think is a great compliment to the strong corn flavor. This is an easy meal with a ton of flavor and my favorite thing of all: a vehicle for a million condiments piled on top.

#2: Cookies and Cream Fudge Brownie

(Photo courtesy of BBC)

Not gonna lie, I have a huge crush on Lorraine Pascale.

(Photo courtesy of Tory Burch)


Anyway, she has a show on Cooking Channel called Simply Baking. She made these on her last show and they looked so fudge-y and decadent, they are totally going to be made for like Thanksgiving or Christmas dessert. They are not everyday brownies but I bet they are just what I'm looking for.

#3: Vegan Nanaimo Bars

(Photo courtesy of One Green Planet, which is an awesome website BTW)

I had no idea what Nanaimo Bars were until like last week. I had heard of them but literally my mind always went blank when people talked about them. For some reason the name alone evoked feelings of numbness. Don't ask me why, I don't question my motives anymore.

I don't know what I was so scared of.... these are veganized bars filled with chocolate, graham cracker crumbs, nuts and a creamy pudding filling. WHAT HAVE I BEEN MISSING ALL THESE YEARS???? I can't wait to make these and review the hell out of them here. Then we can all share in the joy.

#4: Spicy Pumpkin Soup with Coconut Milk (Vegan and Gluten Free!)

(Photo courtesy of Gluten-Free Goddess)

I love pumpkin anything. Pumpkin soups are amazing. The last time I made pumpkin soup I had told my roommates that I was making it and to not eat dinner after work because there would be delicious food waiting for them. I felt like a jilted wife when they both came home at 10 pm having had dinner and ready to go to bed. Don't I sound sad here? I don't want to equate fall soup with depressing dinners! Anyhow, I divided up the soup into portions and ate it for a week and it was just as good on the 7th day as the 1st. This one is vegan and gluten-free and sounds amazing.

#5: Fettucine NoFredo with Roasted Butternut Squash (Vegan)

(Photo courtesy of Kreeli)

This is my friend Christa's dish (she used to run VeganMania in Vancouver, she is pretty amazing and you can find awesome recipes there). Vegan alfredo sauce? You are joking. But that picture is no damn joke. I plan on making this on a really cold day which will be coming sooner rather than later.

Thank you for indulging in my food fantasies. There will be a waffle recipe review this weekend. Until then, take care of yourself and eat some great food!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Mexican Hot Chocolate Snickerdoodles 5/5 Spoons

It is so rare when my end product actually looks almost exactly like the product in the recipe picture. I am so proud of myself here.

Isa's cookies:

My cookies (with a camera phone under the harsh light of my stove, so use your imagination...)

These Mexican Hot Chocolate Snickerdoodles are exactly what I wanted to eat tonight. I wanted something chocolate-y and I had everything I needed for these simple and easy cookies. The heat hits you about 30 seconds in to eating these cookies and linger but not in a bad way. It's a warming taste and really damn good.

Here are my notes:

-- I used vegetable oil because it is what I had.
-- Instead of a full cup of sugar, I only used 2/3 of a cup.
-- I have been using So Delicious unsweetened coconut milk lately instead of soy/almond milk and I love it, especially in baking.
Edit: I forgot to add this, about halfway through the baking, I took the cookies out and pushed them down with the bottom of a drinking glass. It flattens the cookies out so they aren't puffy but more flat and chewy in the middle.

For some reason, I'm always wary of using maple syrup in baking. I can't really taste it at all in the cookies so I'm assuming it gives it a depth of flavor along with the chocolate. No matter what, these were amazing. These will definitely be made again.

Up next, Red Velvet Waffles with a Coconut Cream Cheese topping!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Vegetable Barley Soup 5/5 Spoons

Who freakin' doesn't love soup? I mean, seriously? You can literally make anything into a soup. I had a recipe for Veggie Barley soup but just decided to wing it on my own because I've made enough soups in my life now to know what to do. The results were FANTASTIC. It was jam packed with wholesomeness and a lot of love.

(Soup is ugly but it tastes so good. Check out my photos, not bad huh? I got a new phone.)

Here is my recipe:

2-3 T. olive oil (I don't really measure this stuff)
1 onion, chopped
2 large garlic cloves, diced
2 carrots, diced small
4-5 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, about 2-3 cups worth
1 c. shredded kale
5 c. water
1 14 ounce can diced tomatoes (I run mine through the food processor to have a little chunk and a little sauce)
2 vegetable bouillon cubes
1 t. paprika
1 c. pearled barley (do not use quick barley, it will cook too fast for all the other veggies to catch up)
Salt and pepper to taste

Cook all veggies over medium high heat with olive oil for about 10-15 minutes. You don't want to brown the veggies but get the onions translucent and tender. Add everything else and crank it up until it boils. Once it is boiling, turn down to medium and let cook for about 30-40 minutes or until barley is cooked yet firm and a knife inserted into the potato comes out easily. Serve with French bread and enjoy!

The kale was the best ingredient in the whole dish. Although the potatoes were creamy and the carrots were sweet, the kale really stood out in this dish. I like any healthy vitamin packed green that can stand up to hot soup. And a big chunk of bread with Earth Balance is a dream come true. I'll definitely make this again and hope this inspires you to really soup it up this fall!

I have been missing in action once again but I promise to be back again soon with a dessert recipe. Take care and stay tuned!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Vegan Refried Bean Soup 5/5 Spoons

Oh my gosh, it is totally fall right now. I'm wearing leggings and a cardigan and I finally had to bust out my light jacket for the commute to work this morning. I get giddy in this weather even though I adore summer. It is like you can almost smell the firewood and spices in the crisp air.

This is a whole lot better than me talking about farts. But oops, here we are. I'm going to just come out and say it, vegetarians and vegans fart a lot. Now I'm sure no one wants to hear about gastrointestinal distress on a food website but it is a part of my life and a result of my diet. I freakin' love beans. And cauliflower. And broccoli. And cabbage. And all those other things that make me a totally gross smelly person. I try to keep it to myself but we all know that is impossible. Anyhow, I just want to warn you what will come of eating this soup. You will be a fart machine but it will be totally worth it. (This is now the end of my gross talk. Now for the delicious food!)

(Photos courtesy of Love and Olive Oil)

This soup was SO EASY TO MAKE. I came home from work determined to eat something delicious and healthy and this took me 30 minutes flat from start to finish. It had a nice warming, spicy heat but with some sweetness from corn. And it is chock full of protein and fiber, you won't even know what to do with yourself. Here are my tiny bit of notes:

-- Can I just say, why haven't I used fire roasted tomatoes before now? They are amazing.
-- I definitely put in more hot sauce than was called for and then had some red pepper flakes. So yeah, spice it up however you want.
-- As for accoutrements, I put out green onions, sour cream and tortilla chips. The tortilla chips really made it though, so perfect.

I am putting this on my very long list of soups to make over and over again. And when it is this cheap, easy and delicious... why the heck not?

Hopefully I will be back again soon with a dessert recipe. Maybe something pumpkin-y? You will have to wait and see! xoxo

Monday, August 29, 2011

Pasta Fagioli 4/5 Spoons

Hey lovers! Sorry that I've been missing in action but I actually have a temp job right now and that means that I barely have time to cook good meals or eat good food. It sucks but I manage! And now I'm heading out to New York City and Boston for a week and I could not be more excited. Things are crazy but it feels really good to be tired from being busy all day, it's rewarding to say the least.

So I had my apprehensions about this soup at first. The picture looked great (down below there) but that isn't always an accurate representation of course. I will say, this soup was pretty darn amazing and ended up looking like the picture. Go figure. This had such a nice hearty tomato flavor and the pasta and pureed beans really added something extra. It would be ideal for winter nights or just when you need a serious "soup hug". Soup hug = a big bowl of soup that just melts all your daily worries away. It works, trust me.

(Photo courtesy of Skinnytaste)

Here are my notes:

-- I ended up using two cans of cannellini beans because I thought the soup was a little thin for my taste at the end. And I pureed the whole soup with my immersion blender. It seemed like it needed to be zapped a few times to get that rich and thick tomato soup from a can vibe that is so great. And it doesn't hurt to have more protein and fiber in your diet.
-- I used a can of diced tomatoes but ran it in my food processor until it was smooth. And I always use sodium free tomatoes just because I do. I'm sure I make up for it in added a lot of kosher salt but oh well. We only live once.
-- And as for herbs, I honestly didn't even measure them. And I didn't even add a bay leaf. I worked with what I had. But I did use fresh parsley because that stuff could make a toilet seat taste fresh.
-- Of course, I used veggie broth.
-- As for the ditalini (which I love), I cooked it separately and then added it in my soup as I went back for more. If you leave the pasta in the liquid and refrigerate it overnight, you will end up with a big poofy thick pasta mess on your hands. It's really not the worst thing ever, but it tastes so much better when you have that pasta saved away from the soup.
-- And since I'm a sucker for parmesan, of course I put some on the top. Obviously this is vegan if you leave that out and still just as good.

This review is short but sweet (or savory) and of course, I put my No Meat Mama stamp of approval right on this recipe. I will be back again soon with more reviews and another giveaway. So thanks for reading and have a great Labor Day!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Vegan (Almost) Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Scones 5/5 Spoons

Well I am going to brag, this is my own recipe and it is AWESOME. Okay, so I kind of just tweaked the Vegan Tomato Rosemary Scone (which is so delicious) from Vegan Brunch but I say it's different enough that I can call it my own. (And I kind of fudged up and bought the non-vegan Ghiradelli chips by accident, but this can be easily remedied on my next trip to the store!)

One day on the bus I was contemplating how I can change up this scone but still a. keep it vegan and b. keep it moist. I know scones aren't supposed to be all moist and shit, but I don't care, this is my recipe. I was thinking of other wet ingredients that could replace the tomato sauce in this recipe. And bam! Pumpkin! Duh. Making a dessert version of this scone was the first on my list. And since I'm trying to start my own Etsy shop of my baked goods, I thought this one would be a great way to start!

(Excuse my awful phone photos, once I'm an acclaimed baker with a cookbook deal, then I will buy a nicer camera.)

Here is the recipe:

Vegan Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Scones (this is exactly as I did it, but if you change it up, please let me know what you did to make it your own!)

3 c. unbleached all-purpose flour (and extra for your kneading surface)
2 T. baking powder
1/3 c. sugar (I used Sugar in the Raw, but ya know, do your thang)
1/2 t. kosher salt
1/2 t. cinnamon (I used my fancy Penzey's Spices for this recipe!)
1/4 t. ginger, cloves and nutmeg
1/2 t. vanilla extract
1/3 c. vegetable oil (This is ideal but olive oil would work in a pinch.)
1 1/2 c. pumpkin (Ya know, the unsweetened canned pumpkin, not pumpkin pie mix and I doubt anyone has fresh pumpkin puree just hanging around, but please use that if you do!)
1 t. apple cider vinegar
1/2 c. chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Prep your sheet pan with a Silpat, parchment paper or some light cooking spray.

Sift the flour with the baking powder in a large bowl. Add the spices, salt and sugar; mix well.

In a separate bowl/measuring cup whisk together the pumpkin, oil, vanilla and vinegar until well combined.

Add the wet to the dry and mix until it just comes together. Just before completely blending everything together, add your chips. It is good to have a few spots of flour left before you dump it out on your floured working surface. Knead the dough on your floured surface a few times just to incorporate everything but not until it is too tough to move around. This should be a soft dough but still easy to manage.

Fold your ball into a disk shape about 2 inches high and about 8 inches across. Or ya know, the size of like a medium size dinner plate. Take a knife or a bench scraper and cut the dough in half. Take one half and cut the dough into 6 triangles. Repeat with the other side. I actually ended up making 10 scones instead of 12 (we like our scones big). Take each scone and place it on your sheet with just a little bit of room in between (they don't puff up too much).

Mine took about 25 minutes to bake. They were firm and dry on top but still gave a little when I pressed their middles. I also tested them with a toothpick to make sure they were not too doughy. And voila! Scones! Let these cool and eat. And if you have leftovers, just throw them under a paper towel overnight or a container with a lid for a few days. I doubt they will last that long.

(That is me being excited!)

I just want to thank you all for reading my blog. I really mean it. It's so nice knowing there are people everywhere reading and enjoying my love for food with me. Don't forget, I have an e-mail address ( where you can ask questions, request a recipe for me to make and review or ya know, if you want to pay me to make things for you, I'm more than excited to do that. I'll be back again soon with more deliciousness!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Mama's Recipes For (kind of) Healthy Eating!

My roommate has really been working on eating a super healthy and balanced (and cruelty free) diet. Some of it is a little on the extreme side for me but I've been trying to make meals that we can all enjoy together. He has cut out all meat/dairy products (which is awesome) but he is also trying to not eat anything with oil or salt, which is a tad harder for me personally. There is nothing like a big pot of veggies sauteed in olive oil or edamame with a sprinkle of kosher salt over the top. I am not really willing to totally give that stuff up but I am willing to cut back and accomodate someone who wants to live a cruelty free lifestyle.

Here are some of the recipes I've been working on but I don't feel totally confident in reviewing them on here. I'll just give you a taste of what I've been making for myself and my roommates.

(Photo courtesy of Food Network)

Linguine with Avocado and Arugula Pesto

So obviously I tweaked this a bit to cater to certain dietary needs but overall this pesto was pretty awesome. I left out the cheese and salt and added about 1/4 c. of nutritional yeast instead. Instead of pasta, I shaved zucchini into long strips and quickly blanched them in boiling water. I did not like the noodles and I'm not sure anyone else did either. They were too slimy and gooey for me and I decided to cut up a raw zucchini and just put some pesto over the top. That was pretty righteous. I would recommend the pesto but I think I'll stick to my normal whole wheat pasta.

(Photo courtesy of Vegetarian Times)

Coconut-Banana Smoothie

This has been my breakfast pretty much all week. I love it! I cut up a fresh pineapple and a few bananas and froze the pieces on a cookie sheet until they were firm. I've just been tossing those into my blender with the 1/4 c. coconut milk and plain organic soymilk (I skip the apple juice concentrate). It's so cold and tasty and just a perfect only slightly naughty treat in the morning.

(Photo courtesy of The Kitchn)

Spicy Oven Roasted Chickpeas

OH MY GOD. This is now my most favorite vegan snack in the world. It is easy, healthy and easy customizable to your tastes. I would not recommend putting a whole tablespoon of salt on one can of chickpeas, that is just way too much. I used maybe 1/2 teaspoon? It's hard to say. Instead of garam masala (which would be awesome), I used curry powder. Next time I go to the grocery store, I plan on getting like 10 cans of chickpeas and just trying a million combinations. Sugar and cinnamon? An Italian blend of oregano and basil? How about some chili powder and cumin? It all sounds too good to be true.

These are a few that I just think sound really good and want to make in the near future:

(Photo courtesy of Yum Universe)

Roasted Garlic and Fresh Lemon Aioli (totally vegan!)

(Photo courtesy of Post Punk Kitchen)

Shitake Banh Mi Salad

I've never had a Banh Mi sandwich, but if this is a good representative of that sandwich in salad form, I'm game. Pickled veggies and mushrooms? Need I say more?

(Photo/illustrations courtesy of The Vegan Stoner)

Peanut Stew

I love The Vegan Stoner. They make easy and awesome looking meals. I highly recommend checking them out! PS - The illustrations are kind of the best part too.

If you have suggestions for whole foods and awesome recipes I can make, please feel free to link away! I would appreciate it. You will get another recipe review soon! I promise!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Spinach Almond Pesto (one of my own recipes!)

I hardly ever share my own recipes here (since I don't have as many as I would like) but I want to share with you my favorite pesto recipe that I use all the time:

Spinach Almond Pesto

4 c. spinach (or a 6 ounce bag of spinach)
1 lemon, juiced
3 garlic cloves, cut in a few pieces, but no need to mince
2/3 c. parmesan cheese
½ c. almonds (I use raw, but toasted would be super nice!)
¼ t. ground black peppercorns
¾ t. kosher salt
¼ c. extra-virgin olive oil (use the good stuff since this will be raw)

Throw all ingredients (excluding oil) into a food processor or blender and whir for a few pulses until chopped pretty fine. Stream in oil until the pesto is fully incorporated. Use right away or let sit in a covered container for up to 2 days in the fridge or a couple of weeks in the freezer. The spinach might give off some water so just skim the liquid off whenever you use the pesto. Enjoy!

You could easily substitute arugula or basil for the spinach or walnuts or pine nuts for the almonds! Make it your own!

I just created a new e-mail address for The No Meat Mama ( so if you have any questions, requests, comments or baking/catering work you want to give me (please? haha), you can reach me there!

I'll be back soon with more food and recipes and know how and awesomeness. Stay cool everybody!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

DRUMROLL PLEASE...............

The winner is............... the lovely Kris Anne! (I randomly generated a number from 1-8 and got #1! And I'm at work, so I probably really shouldn't be doing this here, haha.)

Congratulations!!!! Please e-mail me your address at and I will ship it out this weekend!

Check back because I'm always feeling benevolent and having giveaways. : ) Thanks everyone and keep reading!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Seitan Pepperoni 5/5 Spoons (How sexy is my Twin Peaks background?)

My world changed when my lovely friend Kris Anne introduced me to the magical world of making my own seitan. She made a "fried chicken" recipe from La Dolce Vegan! and I was hooked. I think the next day I went to the natural foods section of my then local grocery store and stocked up on a few boxes of vital wheat gluten. I love Arrowhead Mills because it is affordable and always works right for me but it's a tad harder to find. I always stock up when I head back home to Wisconsin. It's strange, I live in Chicago but I stock up on my wheat gluten back home. It's kind of cute.

(Photos courtesy of Food Doodles)

So since I regularly use "wheat meat" to substitute some of my old favorite meaty meals like chicken I figured I would try pepperoni! Although I would liken this pepperoni to summer sausage. Do you remember that stuff? I loved it when I was younger. I sliced up this "pepperoni" and put it on a sandwich and it seriously tasted like sausage to me! I was blown away. And here are my notes (because I had to work with what I had at the time!):

-- I definitely added quite a bit more red pepper flakes and it was awesomely spicy. I would dare say about 1 1/2 t. were added in.
-- Instead of tomato sauce, I thawed out some tomato paste and used that. I took 1/4 c. of the paste (equivalent to 4 T.) and added 1/4 c. of water to it and mixed it until smooth. You still add the 2/3 c. of water too. I like the tomato paste because I think it added a very deep flavor that might not have been there with just the sauce.
-- I had no liquid smoke! No worries, I got some the other day at Whole Foods, so I can't wait to add it in next time around. I just used some low-sodium soy sauce instead.

I followed the directions perfectly and the thing came out looking amazing. I didn't even wait until it was cool to try it. I still have about half a log left (after snacking and eating it in sandwiches) and will put it on some homemade pizza soon. My favorite thing about this seitan is its versatility. It tastes great anywhere I put it. I imagine pan frying it and adding it to some baked mac and cheese would be amazing. Or cutting it up and adding it to a salad. Or just pulling it out of the fridge and dunking it in mustard. It's all good.

REMEMBER! I am having a giveaway that you can find right below this post or at this link, so enter and you may win! It closes Tuesday at noon and then I will announce the winner. See you soon!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011


Okay, so I have to be honest with you. I totally messed up my first No Meat Mama giveaway. The number that was picked was of someone I didn't know and I left the post for them here for a short period of time to see. They didn't respond and I quickly took it down in frustration. It was silly and not professional (which I'm not sure if I am supposed to be or not, haha) and this giveaway will totally make up for the last one! (PS - Sorry Rob, whoever and wherever you are, maybe you will win this time?)

Now on to the good stuff!

I love buying fair trade and organic when I can. And that's not often. I am not being endorsed or paid by Equal Exchange, I just believe in their products. And since I love you all so much, I am giving away a free 8 ounce canister of Equal Exchange's fair trade and organic baking cocoa!

Here is the DL from Equal Exchange themselves:

"Our delicious organic fairly traded cocoa baking powder is perfect for brownies, cakes, cookies and countless desserts. The small scale growers of the CONACADO cooperative carefully cultivate their cacao trees with gentle, shade-grown, chemical-free farming methods. This creates the natural environment preferred by cacao trees as well as native wildlife and migratory birds. Then the co-op selects the best beans for special post-harvest processing, and processes the beans into powder. Vegan. Manufactured on equipment that processes products containing soy, wheat, eggs & dairy."

Okay, so how do you enter this fabulous sweepstakes that I am offering to you? I just want you to answer one question for me on this blog in the comment section:

Tell me about your ideal setting to drink a really good cup of coffee. Or tea. Or any other beverage that gets you peppy in the AM hours.

I'm not talking about guzzling a pot of coffee running out the door to work (unless that's ideal for you, which I don't understand, but more power to you.) Mine is waking up early on the weekend with nothing planned (except maybe going to the beach) and sitting in bed reading while the sun blasts through my window. Ahhhhhhh.... doesn't that sound delicious?

Leave a comment here or on the Facebook page (which you should like by the way, it's in the fetal stage, so bear with me.) The giveaway will end next Tuesday, the 12th at noon CST. Pass it on to your friends and everyone else who loves to bake! Or make hot chocolate! I will announce the winner next week and make a post. Good luck everyone!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Vegan Chickpea Cutlets and Vegetarian Gravy (and other fixins!) 5/5 Spoons

IF I COULD GIVE THIS MORE THAN 5/5 SPOONS, I WOULD!!!! But it's my blog, so I can do it if I want, right? I actually equated this meal with making love to a beautiful stranger. And since I can't really say that I've done that (ahem, in the last few years), I imagine it is like eating this meal.

I've made the Chickpea Cutlets quite a few times before and they are kind of time consuming but totally taste like a cruelty-free Thanksgiving stuffing formed into a patty. And I can't really say that I was ever one for gravy but knowing I can easily make this recipe without any meat is amazing.

(Photo courtesy of Soundly Vegan)

And now the notes:

-- I always double the cutlet recipe. It gives you about 8 really big cutlets and I love having these leftover the next day for lunch or dinner. As long as you are making them, go all out. And as I'm typing this I realize that I should bake these instead of pan frying them and stick them in a sandwich. YUM!
-- You could bake these but I prefer to fry them to make them crazy crispy. A little oil never hurt anyone.
-- All I can say about the gravy is BE PATIENT. I have a lot of patience when it comes to food (sometimes) but even I kind of rushed the thickening process. I made a slurry as to not make my gravy lumpy. Next time I might try supplementing some cornstarch the same way to speed up the process.
-- This makes a lot of gravy. I doubled the recipe and had to freeze about 4 c. of it. And that's after I totally doused my food, so remember that when making it.
-- I used dried parsley instead of fresh. Whatever, I don't think it does all that much in general.
-- And you could easily make this vegan with some Earth Balance or your favorite vegan butter alternatives. All I had was unsalted butter in the house, so that's what I went for.

(Photo courtesy of Pham Fatale)

And since this was like my Sunday Night Dinner gone wild (and um, on a Monday) I made roasted asparagus and creamy mashed potatoes. I have no recipe for the potatoes because I always change it up depending on what I am feeling and what I have in the fridge. This time I used milk, butter, sour cream, fresh dill from my herb garden, salt and pepper. And I always use Yukon Gold potatoes because I think they are by far the creamiest for mashed spuds. This meal is just a melange of salty meatiness. And if that sounds gross to you, sorry. I love salty and meaty tasting foods just like the rest of America. I recommend you take a few hours out of a slow day and make this meal and take in the delicious flavors!

Up next, (if it works, since I'm baking it right now), Seitan Pepperoni!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy 4th of July!

Hello all! I haven't forgotten about you, I could never do that!

Obviously summer is a busy time for everyone.... I went home for a visit and a wedding, have been working some temp jobs and just generally have been outside soaking up as much of the sun and fun as I can.

Starting this week I will have more chances to catch up with you especially since I'm making Vegan Chickpea Cutlets, Veggie Gravy, Mashed Potatoes and Roasted Asparagus for dinner tonight! You will want to join me for that this week, I'm sure.

Let me leave you with this "interpretation" of an American flag that I made last night. I went the easiest and most American route I could and use a boxed cake mix, fat free Cool Whip for topping and fresh strawberries and blueberries to top it all off. It's not my normal thing to do but I know it's delicious and I wanted something easy so I could enjoy my holiday like everyone else!

See you later this week!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Perfect Lemon Bars 5/5 Spoons

They really are perfect.

Perfect enough for me to be the only one eating this entire pan of lemon bars all by myself over the course of 4 days. I don't even care if no one else likes them, I LOVE THEM. I wanted something much more tart than the Buttermilk Lemon Bars I made previously (which are amazing in their own way). Baking Bites never fails to offer me a slew of lemon desserts. As I was eating these I kept imagining making them with oranges and limes and just salivating at the mere thought.

(Photos courtesy of Baking Bites, and they look way prettier than mine turned out!)

Although there aren't many, here are my notes:

-- I used 1/2 t. kosher salt instead of 1/4 t. table salt.
-- Once again, I didn't measure the zest, I just completely zested one whole lemon and added it in.
-- I used about 4 lemons and almost got a cup of juice. To supplement the little bit I was missing, I just added water. I wouldn't advise doing that if you have 1/4 c. or more missing. You can substitute orange juice if you have it, that would work awesomely.

My lemon bars weren't exactly "pretty" but whatever, they tasted amazing. I didn't bother putting confectioner's sugar on top because I wasn't serving them to anyone and I didn't want the added sugar. Speaking of sugar, I'm sure we all know by now that I'm notorious for downplaying sugar in desserts when I feel like it is just too much. Not this time. I am glad I put the whole 1 1/3 cups in because there is so much lemon juice to counterbalance it all. The nice thing about these bars is that you can have a small one (or three or four, not like I would do that) and be totally satisfied. So if you are a normal person who eats normal portions of desserts (nope, not me) then this will take you a long way. It was super easy to make and just tastes so phenomenal. The tartness of the lemons really plays nicely with the buttery shortbread crust underneath. They are a match made in heaven.

Up next, not sure! I haven't been cooking much since we have an out of town guest staying here but I will be back and ready to rock next week with all new recipes. Take care!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Tuscan Lemon Muffins 5/5 Spoons

.... and I come back with an awesome dessert. Whew! Scared? So was I.

My roommate told me the other night when I was making the totally average vegan brownies that I rarely ever make the same dessert twice. And he was right. I like to think it is because I want to try new recipes and techniques. The thing is, there are a few desserts I do make often enough to say they are in my repertoire. Vegan Pumpkin Pie, Lemon Poppyseed Loaf and Vegan Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls come to mind. So really, I have a theme here. I love pumpkin and lemon desserts enough to make them more than once. And this new dessert, Tuscan Lemon Muffins*, is no different. I've made these twice in the last week and they just go so fast. They are tender without falling apart. They have a nice lemon-y kick without being overpowering. The only fat added in is 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil. Wow! Here are my notes:

-- I cut the sugar down to 1/2 c. to make it more muffin and less cupcake like.
-- I would say I use about 1/2 t. kosher salt instead of 1/4 t.
-- When I zest the lemon, I just use as much as I can get off. I don't measure it. Since the zest has the most flavor, I use as much as I can get. And I don't measure the juice, I just use a whole medium size lemon.

(Photo courtesy of MyRecipes)

Really, I barely deviated from this recipe. IT IS THAT GOOD. It has a nice lemon flavor but with a hint of creaminess from the ricotta. They are so insanely tender that I can't even really believe it. I would love to make this into a tiered cake sometime and see if it works out. So if anyone wants a fancy Tuscan Lemon cake with Lemon Buttercream frosting for their birthday/wedding/bar mitzvah/everyday "I need cake" use, I can do that for a price. ; )

* Thanks to my lovely friend Megan for showing me this recipe. I now owe you one. ; )

Monday, June 6, 2011

Vegan Chocolate Chip Brownies 3/5 Spoons

Look above everyone! A dessert that I didn't absolutely love! Okay, well it was still good enough for me to be eating it for the last 3 days that's for sure. I honestly don't think I hate desserts unless they involve raisins, rhubarb or gelatin in some way.

(Photos courtesy of Go Vegan Meow!)

I just can never find a vegan brownie recipe that is to my liking. I want it to be fudge-like but not too sweet with intense chocolate flavor. I don't want it dry, crumbly or to be like cake. If I want cake, I'll make a cake. Really, that's all I ask. I will say that this recipe does make a great deep chocolate punch but I think that's mostly due to the fact that I used Ghiradelli chips (which are in my opinion, THE BEST that you can find at least in the grocery store). These were far too flat and crumbly without the oomph that you typically get with even a boxed brownie. (PS - I love boxed brownies. Don't hate. They give you consistent results every time and are a fudge-y brownie lovers dream.) So here are my notes:

-- The recipe is kind of confusing. She tells you to use 1 c. of chips (2/3 c. melted, and 1/2 c. chips added in). Certainly doesn't add up to 1 cup. I used those amounts anyhow.
-- I've been using almond milk now instead of soy and love it. I am a milk alternative convert!
-- I bumped the sugar down to 1/2 cup.
-- Instead of 1/4 t. salt, I used 1/2 t. kosher salt. I like the saltiness with the chocolate flavor.
-- And this was hilarious but I totally forgot to put the chips in at the end and I had already panned them, so I just sprinkled them on top. They looked really nice.

I have no idea how she fit this into a 9x13 pan. I used a 8x11 (I think) pan and still had to spread it out with a firm hand. This batter was not moist and wet like most brownie batters, this was firm like a cookie dough. It was weird but I went with it. These are okay. They have a nice chocolate flavor like I said before but they are not hand held brownies. You have to eat them on a plate or napkin because they crumble far too much. And for some reason, I find that annoying.

So if anyone can suggest to me a wonderful vegan brownie recipe, I would be way more than happy to try it out and review it here. Up next, another sweet, Tuscan Lemon Muffins!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Tera Needs Your Help!

"I've created this page because I am trying to raise money to cover Tera's vet bills.

Last week we learned that Tera has a mass in her abdomen. Today we determined that it is a tumor attached to her spleen, which could be benign or malignant. Either way, Tera needs surgery to remove the tumor. Otherwise, it will eventually rupture and she will bleed to death.

So far I have paid $400 to the vet for blood testing, xrays, and so on, and another $400 for an ultrasound. The surgery itself will cost $1800-$2200.

I am planning a fundraiser party, but if you are unable to come, you can still contribute to her vet fees through this page. I will also try to post updates on this page. Thank you!"

(I don't want to make a habit of these things because there are millions of animals in need out there but this a friend of a friend and I can't say no to that face. I spared you the photo of this precious pup, but you can see for yourself at the link here. You can safely donate money for Tera's cause and hopefully everything will work out okay! Thanks! And every penny helps!)

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Indian-Style Vegetable Curry 5/5 Spoons

I don't want to toot my own horn too excessively BUT I think I'm a pretty great cook and baker. All of these things rolled into one? I'm a total catch. Anyhow, I know my stuff (for the most part) but I still really suck at cooking rice. Sometimes it is average but the rest of the time, it comes out either too dry or too wet and gooey. If anyone can give me a foolproof way to cook rice (jasmine and standard white long grain) on a stove top, I will like give you a thousand kisses.

(You have to deal with my phone pics!)

Since I'm unemployed, I have an awful lot of time to watch America's Test Kitchen (between looking for work and talking to my temp rep like every day). This is really one of the best cooking shows on television. I used to be really into Food Network and now I find most of it to be a joke. I love cooking shows that make simple food that is often easily messed up on a daily basis. They show you the science of why certain things work and other things don't. I secretly love how snobby they are about food because I'm that way too. I tend to keep it to myself as to still have friends and family who love me. It's hard but I can manage, haha. Anyhow, the only fault I have with ATK is that they almost never make vegetarian dishes, let alone totally vegan ones. I was thrilled when they made this because I've had a string of bad curry recipes going through my kitchens in the last year. The one thing that was missing in this recipe that really attracted me was sesame oil. I've mentioned before my distaste of sesame oil so I thought I'd give this a try and it was a serious success. Here are my notes:

-- I used one onion but it ended up being 2 cups, go figure. I was kind of careful about measuring because I wanted this to turn out perfect.
-- As usual, I used dried ginger instead of fresh.
-- Since I like it spicy, I left the seeds and ribs in the pepper. If you aren't a hot person, I would say get rid of it. Serranos pack a punch.
-- I'm pretty careful about my sodium intake (among other things) just because I know it's not good for me. I had no idea there were so many sodium-free options out there. The tomato paste and diced tomatoes were both totally void of salt. I love being able to put my own amount of salt and feel good about it.
-- Because I wanted to make this totally vegan, I used coconut milk instead of cream.
-- I didn't have any condiments around to top the curry but I think cilantro would be dynamite sprinkled on top.

This is so spicy, warming and full of delicious, healthy vegetables. And since we have air conditioning, I can enjoy chili and curry even when it is 90 degrees outside. Sorry to rub it in! This all came together fairly fast (45 minutes) and is super healthy. I think this is a do-able weeknight dinner that makes a lot of food at a pretty damn cheap price. If you don't have A/C, I would bookmark this and save it for October. It's worth waiting for.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Just in time for Memorial Day!

This is my first time making BBQ sauce and a BBQ rub, so please indulge me.

It is adapted from this recipe (with my own Jackie tweaks). I usually have given up on Food Network recipes because generally anytime I've tried one (even from Alton Brown) they always stink. And the Neely's are really annoying but damn do they make a fine BBQ sauce.

1 14 ounce can tomato sauce
1/2 c. ketchup
1 cup water
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
5 tablespoons light brown sugar
1/2 tablespoon fresh ground black pepper
1/2 tablespoon onion powder
1/2 tablespoon ground mustard
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon honey

I didn't want to use all ketchup so the tomato sauce went in and I think it was perfect. I omitted the white sugar but added a dash of honey at the end. If you want this to be totally vegan either use agave nectar or omit the honey but cut the black pepper to 1 teaspoon. It gets really spicy with all the pepper as it cooks but if you let it simmer for the 1 hour and 15 minutes it comes out really sweet, spicy but not overwhelming. Since Worcestershire sauce is not vegetarian, I added balsamic vinegar and it gives it a really nice depth (I think you could add tamari too for the same effect.)

(Yummm.... vegetarian BBQ.)

Now onto the rub! As someone who even when I ate meat never cooked it for myself, using a rub is not something I am accustomed to. Basically the BBQ sauce was a starting point and then I just shot off from there! We had Gardein Chick'n Scallopini and Home Style Beefless Tips in our freezer just begging to be coated with spices and brown sugar. Here is the recipe I used. No need to talk about tweaking it, although I may not have be so accurate on measurements. I halved the ingredients and it came out so wonderfully sweet and spicy on the various meat analogs. The only problem I had was the brown sugar burning the bottom of the pan I used to fry the "meat" in. So don't be like me and crank up the heat to 5 on a gas stove. Use discretion but get those babies crunchy!

Enjoy and I'll be again this weekend with more recipe reviews. Have a safe and fun holiday weekend!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Chocolate Cupcakes with Raspberry Cream Cheese Filling and Vanilla Buttercream Frosting 4/5 Spoons

The title is quite a mouthful, huh? There is no way to shorten it without people asking, "So what is this stuff inside? What's on the top?" Long name usually means all kinds of goodness packed inside and this is no exception.

(You will have to deal with my crappy cell phone photos for this one!)

I found this recipe for Dark Chocolate Raspberry Cupcakes (although I wouldn't exactly call them "dark"). Initially I had planned on just dolloping raspberry preserves in the middle but I wanted to bump up the filling factor. If you are a baker, you know how much of a pain filling a cupcake can be. As long as I'm sawing off the tops and filling it with something, might as well make it extra special. None of the raspberry cream cheese fillings I found fit the bill, so I just made up my own! It was kind of beyond easy and don't really need to pat myself on the back for this (okay, I will... pat pat).

When it was all said and done, I barely deviated from the original recipe above. I made up my own version of a filling and cut the buttercream frosting recipe in half. Here are my notes:

-- All I could find at the grocery store was normal unsweetened cocoa powder, not dutch process. It worked out just fine.
-- I left my eggs at room temperature for about 3 hours and they were perfect. Here is an explanation why room temp eggs are better than cold in baking. You learn something new everyday.
-- Skim milk was used instead of anything else that is often used in baking. It was either that or almond milk. I honestly don't think any kind would make a big difference.
-- You may realize that something is missing in the recipe that is ESSENTIAL for chocolate desserts (heck, all desserts). SALT! I didn't see it and was confused so I added about 1 t. of kosher salt.
-- I halved the frosting recipe. I followed it all and really didn't like it (hence the 4 stars). It came out looking of glossy and like royal icing (which I wasn't looking for). I'll probably find something more suited for my tastes next time.
-- If you haven't filled anything before, here is what I did. Grab a cupcake, take your sharp and small knife and jab it in at a 45 degree angle. You want to make a small cone sort of shape with the cake top so that you can discard the bottom part and the filling won't overflow. Baking Bites can explain it better and with pictures here!

So I baked these up all pretty and made this raspberry cream cheese filling (this is from memory, so hopefully it's not totally off on the measurements):

4 ounces cream cheese, room temp
1/4 c. raspberry preserves (you can use any kind if you don't like the seeds)
1/2 t. vanilla
2 T. confectioners sugar

Whip the first three together until well combined. Add the sugar 1 T. at a time until it comes together. It doesn't need to be firm, but needs to hold together well.

(As you can see, these went over well.)

Overall these cupcakes were AWESOME. The cakes that were a little more full came out really fudge-y and were hard to cut into but tasted so good on their own. Almost like a cupcake brownie (don't even get me started...). I wouldn't necessarily say these were very "dark" but still had a nice chocolate flavor and not overly packed with sugar. I think the real shining star here is the raspberry cream cheese filling. It has a nice creamy, tart flavor with a punch of fruity goodness right at the end. So what I'm saying is, make this. It takes a bit of work and some patience (which I don't have) but they came out great.

Up next, White Pizza with a Chicago style deep dish crust!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Classic Buttermilk Cornbread 5/5 Spoons

Sometimes I love sides more than I love full "real" meals.

I love to go to a restaurant and order 3 sides and gobble them up with gusto. The thing is, they have to individually be so good and different from each other that it constitutes a meal (in my mind and in my belly). I need some sort of bread product (corn bread in this instance), some sort of protein (I made organic cumin-laced black refried beans to go along with this) and a veggie (homemade guacamole! I have my own recipe, if you want it, let me know!)

(Photo courtesy of Fine Cooking)

The problem with cornbread (which I admittedly don't have a lot of experience at making) is that it can be SO DRY. I mean you can put as much butter on a dry hunk of bread as you want but you still know it's not very good. I think using buttermilk (did you know it is actually low in fat?) really moistened the bread and it is even quite tender today. I wanted to make sure to find a recipe that a. was tender (check) b. not chock full of sugar (check) and c. doesn't contain an entire stick of butter (check). I think this recipe is my new winner! Here are my notes (there are barely any!):

-- Instead of table salt, I used kosher salt and bumped it up to 1 t. because kosher salt weighs less than table salt. Interesting, huh?
-- I used low-fat sour cream without any problem.
-- Because I had it, I added about 1 c. of frozen corn kernels. I feel like this part is totally necessary.

(I'm definitely not from Alabama, but I love cornbread!)

I of course couldn't wait. So I flipped this bread out of the pan and cut it into weird chunks and gobbled it up with some butter substitute. It was the perfect amount of sweetness and had a wonderful intense corn taste that a lot of cornbreads do not have. This is a great recipe because it uses so much cornmeal and very little all-purpose flour for a super authentic taste. This *technically* is not that bad for you. There is some butter yeah, but this bread will serve a lot of people. And I'm not always so worried about butter as I appear on here, I love me some sweet cream unsalted butter. This would go great with this Vegetarian Chili or Cincinnati Chili Mac.

Coming up soon......

Red Velvet Waffles with Cream Cheese Coconut Butter

Dark Chocolate Raspberry Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

and other things I'm totally making up like BBQ Beefless Tips with Mashed Potatoes and Roasted Asparagus and a White Pizza. See you soon!