Saturday, November 12, 2011

Barbara's Fig Bars are Delicious!

I love me a fig newton any day anyhow (will have to try and make my own soon). These taste exactly like the ones from my childhood, the ones that weren't very healthy but were totally delicious, only these are healthy AND totally delicious! Sweetened naturally with fruit juice and low in fat, I wouldn't recommend pounding them back (like I'm trying not to - losing battle!) but they are a fabulous snack to go along with tea or coffee or just on their own. Glad I picked these babies up. Will be getting them again and again and again. There are different kinds too, I chose blueberry because I love them too. Two of the things I love in one place. I know they also have a whole wheat variety.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Vegan Chocolate Spice Cookies

This recipe is absolutely delicious. Like a soft, vaguely chocolatey, gingerbread, it's perfect for the holidays. The recipe is completely vegan: dairy free, egg free, and nut free. You can play around a bit with the spice mix according to your own taste.


1 1/2 cups + 1 tbsp Flour (I used all-purp)
1 1/4 tsp Ground Ginger
1 tsp Cinnamon
1/4 tsp Ground Cloves
1/4 tsp Nutmeg *I don't like Nutmeg, see Adventures in Pumpkin bread, so I just put in a pinch
1 (rounded) tbsp Cocoa Powder
1 cup Vegan Margarine (I used Becel).
1/2 cup Brown Sugar
1/4 cup Molasses *I didn't have molasses so I substituted 1/4 cup + 2 tbsps pure Maple Syrup
1 tsp Baking Soda dissolved in 1 1/2 tsp Boiling Water
1/4 cup sugar mixture set aside (1 part brown sugar, one part cane sugar, 1/2 tsp cinnamon)

  1. Whisk together dry ingredients: flour, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and cocoa, in a small bowl.
  2. Beat together margarine and brown sugar (I used a hand mixer). Add the molasses or maple syrup and mix well. Add half of the flour and the baking soda/water mixture and combine well. Then add the rest of the flour.
  3. Chill cookie dough covered for at least an hour. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  4. Spoon dough into 1 1/2 in balls (I used a melon baller) and roll in sugar mixture
  5. Bake 13-15 minutes (I baked for 13, checked at 10)
To see the original recipe please click here. I made adjustments based on what I had in the house, like subbing the molasses for maple syrup, and I also added more margarine and a little extra maple syrup because after following all the directions I found my cookie dough to be too dry and mealy and in need of more moist/liquid ingredients to help it get to the right texture.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Experiments in Pumpkin Cake

I've been craving something seasonal for a while now, something warm and spicy to ward off the damp and cold. This recipe jumped out at me immediately, begging to be baked. The result is a remarkably light, soft, (albeit crumbly) cake with a sweet and slightly chewy crust. It's tastes and smells exactly like a pumpkin pie would, only it has the texture more of a banana bread. I can't help but smile when eating it!

I don't know if you've noticed it already, but if you take a closer look at the photo of my finished product you'll see that my pumpkin cake looks a bit like it exploded; I made the mistake of overloading my loaf tin. I should have opted for baking two smaller loaves instead, but I truly didn't anticipate it rising as much as it did, and boy did it ever! I've found that a lot of my vegan recipes result in cakes/cookies/breads -all yummy but - without much volume. All except this one, I guess. For some reason the sky was the limit for this one! It really erupted! So when in doubt opt for two, or reserve some of the batter to be baked at a later date (this may not be an issue at all if you're using the actual 8x8 baking sheet the recipe suggests).

I'll also admit that my dry ingredients could have been mixed better. I don't own a sifter (yet!), but if you do I strongly urge you to use it! I am going to get one before trying this recipe again because I got an unfortunate bite of too much nutmeg which I perceived as quite sour and unpleasant. Cinnamon really is the fairer sister, although that's just my opinion. Maybe you all like a mouthful of nutmeg - you're perfectly entitled.

Anyway, I did the best I could with what I had available, and I still consider it a big success. I've already eaten three pieces since I baked it this afternoon, and it also has my husband's stamp of approval, and that means a lot because he's fussy...


Brown Sugar, 1 cup
Vegetable Oil, 1/2 cup
Maple Syrup, 1/2 cup
(Real) Vanilla Extract, 1 tsp

Flour, 2 1/2 cups (I used All-Purpose)
Baking Soda, 1 tsp
Baking Powder, 1 tsp
Cinnamon, 1 tsp
Ground Cloves, 1 tsp
Ginger, 1/2 tsp
Nutmeg, 1/2 tsp
Salt, 1/2 tsp

1 (15 ounce) can Pumpkin Purée (or 2 cups fresh Pumpkin, cooked and mashed)


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  2. Grease 8x8 baking pan, line bottom with wax paper (I used a loaf pan but filled it too much, made enough batter for two loaf pans)
  3. Place sugar, oil, maple syrup and vanilla extract in a large mixing bowl, whisk together until sugar is dissolved
  4. In a separate bowl SIFT (for the love of God! Sift!) together dry ingredients including spices
  5. In small alternating portions mix the pumpkin and dry mixture into the wet ingredients *beginning with flour and ending with flour (batter became very thick, I had to use a hand mixer to get it smooth)
  6. Spread the batter into prepared pan
  7. Bake 55 minutes to an hour until it passes the toothpick test (since I overloaded my loaf pan it actually took almost another 20 minutes to pass the test)
  8. Once it's cooled a little, turn out onto rack and allow to cool further. Sneak a piece of the heel while it's still warm and EAT IT!
You can see the original recipe HERE

Monday, October 10, 2011

Vegan (ish) Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

I found this super easy recipe on I had a craving for peanut butter cookies and chocolate too, so I thought Why not combine the two? I had never had a peanut butter chocolate chip cookie before, but now I have and I adore them. It's the Reese's Pieces of the cookie world. The cookies themselves have a great texture and aren't too sweet, and the chocolate is ooey-gooey like it should be. I'll admit that this recipe IS vegan, however mine aren't entirely because I used regular chocolate chips. If you have vegan chocolate chips then this recipe remains dairy and egg free. I chose to make mine tiny for easy consumption, and in a vain attempt at not feeling guilty for wolfing them down. Warning: you WILL want to wolf them down! Be prepared. The dough is very thick and hard to handle so I used a small melon baller to finagle in onto the baking sheet.
(As I'm writing this my husband dashes into the room and snitches a handful off the cooling rack, and he doesn't even really like peanut butter cookies, having asked me earlier to make plain chocolate chip instead. They're just THAT good!)


2 cups Whole Wheat Pastry Flour, Spelt Flour or Unbleached All-Purpose Flour (I used all-purp)
1 tsp Baking Soda
3/4 tsp Fine Grain Sea Salt
1 cup Organic Chunky Natural Peanut Butter (recipe calls for chunky but I used smooth and it was fine)
1 cup Maple Syrup
1/3 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 1/2 tsps Vanilla Extract
3/4 cup Chocolate Chips, or to taste


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Combine dry ingredients together in a medium mixing bowl
  3. Combine wet ingredients together in a large mixing bowl
  4. Once wet ingredients are mixed smooth, incorporate dry ingredients. Stir until barely combined, mixture will be a little dusty.
  5. Let sit for five minutes and them mix again, only once or twice. Fold in chocolate chips until they are more or less evenly distributed
  6. Cover a baking sheet in parchment paper (I sprayed non-stick onto the baking sheet to stick the parchment paper down, and then on the paper too - I'm paranoid about sticking)
  7. Apply dough to baking sheet anyway you like. You can make bigger cookies, or smaller ones like mine (I used a melon baller and then pressed down on each gently with the back of a small fork. If you want to do the traditional full criss-cross the recipe warns you to cool your dough first, for about an hour, otherwise it'll be too gluey and won't work)
  8. Bake for 10 - 11 minutes
  9. Eat one before it's fully cooled, getting chocolate all over your fingers (<-- the most important step!)
To see the original recipe, or to browse others please check out

Friday, October 7, 2011

'Olive Garden' Minestrone Soup

This is my favourite soup recipe, and it's vegan too, although I think by coincidence not by design. It's perfect for lunches or for dinner on cold nights or to cure a cold. As a veggie, it's my go-to rather than the traditional chicken noodle. It's also packed with vegetables and tons of protein.

The recipe I'm including is for 8 servings and can be cooked on the stove top. I always double the recipe and cook it in my giant crock pot. It stores very well, although better if the noodles are cooked and incorporated separately (otherwise once reserved or frozen in portions the soup will because overly starchy).

'Olive Garden Minestrone Soup:


2 tbsps Olive Oil

1/2 cup (White) Onion, minced

1/4 cup Zucchini, chopped

1/4 cup Frozen Cut Italian Green Beans (I used fresh)

1/4 cup Celery, minced (about 1/2 stalk)

2 tsps Garlic, minced (about 2 cloves)

4 cups Vegetable Stock (I use Knorr powder, but any kind will do)

1 (15 ounce) can Red Kidney Beans, drained

1 (15 ounce) can Small White Beans or Great Northern Beans, drained

1/2 (14 ounce) can Diced Tomatoes

1/2 cup Carrots. julienned or shredded

2 tbsps Fresh Parsley, minced

1 tsp Dried Oregano

1 tsp Salt

1/2 tsp Ground Black Pepper

1/2 tsp Dried Basil

1/4 tsp Dried Thyme

1 1/2 cups Hot Water

3 cups Fresh Baby Spinach

1/3 cup small shell pasta


  1. Heat two tablespoons of olive oil on medium heat in a large pot.
  2. Sauté onion, celery, garlic, green beans and zucchini in the oil for 5 minutes or until the onions turn translucent.
  3. Add vegetable stock, drained tomatoes, beans, carrots, hot water and spices.
  4. Bring soup to a boil, then reduce the heat and allow it to simmer for 20 minutes
  5. Add spinach leaves and pasta and cook for an additional 2o minutes or until it reaches desired consistency.
*If you are cooking it in a crockpot it'll cook over a lower heat but for multiple hours. I added all the ingredients together and then raised it to a simmer and let it cook like that for 5 or 6 hours, stirring only occasionally. You really don't need to babysit it too much.

Outrageous Vegan Banana Bread

I made this delicious vegan banana bread recipe on Wednesday afternoon and there's hardly any of it left. I have to actively try not to scarf it down when I'm left alone with it during the day. The recipe yields a banana bread with a more moist cake-like texture, and a sweet crispy/chewy crust.

The recipe is easy to put together, with only ten minutes of prep time, although a warning: the batter is very thick and gloopy. I wasn't strong enough to mix it by hand so I used an electric hand mixter to get the batter as smooth as it'll get.

I also think mine could have baked for another five minutes or so, but it was fine anyway, it passed the toothpick test. I think it's because I added more banana's than the recipe originally called for. My overripe bananas, that I'd been saving especially for this, where very small organic bananas, so even though I used six like the recipe required I didn't end up with enough wet product to fully mix into the dry product. So I eyeballed it and added another two larger bananas and that seemed to work out well.

I'll pretty much do anything for a good banana bread, I was raised on my grandmother's and have since experimented with store bought and husband-baked, and so far this is the best! I might even try adding chocolate chips in next time (it will remain vegan if they are vegan carob nips or other dairy-free options, might also be nice with crushed walnuts).

Vegan Banana Bread


6 Medium Bananas, mashed (eyeball it if you don't have enough)

1 cup Sugar (I used organic unrefined cane sugar)

1 tsp Vanilla Extract (make sure it's real vanilla and not just vanilla flavouring)

2 cups Flour (I used unbleached all purpose)

1 tsp Baking Soda

1 tsp Baking Powder

Cinnamon - to taste (I used two generous pinches)


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Mix together bananas, sugar and vanilla
  3. Add dry ingredients and mix together until blended (I couldn't do it by hand, you might want to try some sort of electric mixer)
  4. Grease a 9 x 13 baking dish or a loaf pan (I used a loaf pan)
  5. Bake for 1 hour or slightly longer until it passes the toothpick test (toothpick once inserted must come out clean)
  6. Allow it to cool before turning out on a cooling rack.
  7. Enjoy a warm piece of perfection!
To see the original recipe please click HERE

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Vegan Chocolate Cake Recipe

I have finally found a delicious vegan chocolate cake recipe amazingly similar to my grandmother's trademark chocolate cake. I found the recipe while searching 'vegan' on My grandmother originally clipped her recipe out of a magazine and started baking it regularly when my cousin developed a milk allergy when she was a child. I had no idea it was completely vegan until I was older. Up until I got married and moved away, she baked it as my birthday cake every year. This recipe does includes directions for icing, which I didn't do as I'm not a huge icing fan (the picture above is my finished product, my deliciously naked cake).

Part of what I love about this recipe and my grandmother's recipe is that the cake comes out very rich and moist without being too heavy.

I can't wait for dessert time this evening when I'll be able to show off my accomplishment to my vegan-naysayer of a husband!

For the cake:


1 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour

3/4 cup sugar (I used cane sugar)

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

3 tablespoons cocoa powder


1 teaspoon vanilla extract (I used pure vanilla, not artificial)

1 tablespoon vinegar

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1 cup cold water

For the frosting:

2 tablespoons earth balance butter (or other vegan margarine/butter)

1 1/3 cups powdered sugar

1/3 cups cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

2-4 tablespoons water


For the cake:
  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl
  3. Make a well in the centre and add wet ingredients
  4. Stir until mixture batter is smooth
  5. Pour into greased 9X9 baking dish*
  6. Bake for 30 minutes**
For the frosting;
  1. Cream the 'butter' in a bowl
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients to make a thick but spreadable frosting.
* I used a 7X11 baking dish and it was fine, if a little thin. You can also use a cupcake pan, it will make 8 cupcakes.
** After 30 minutes it should pass the tooth pick test, tooth pick should come out clean. If not cook for longer in 5 minute increments to not over do it. My cake cooked perfectly in 30 minutes, but I know everybody's stove is different.

To see the original recipe please click HERE.

Happy cake baking!