BANANA PEANUT BUTTER SWIRL CHOCOLATE CHIP BREAD

Banana Peanut Butter Swirl Chocolate Chip Bread!

That’s quite a long name but I don’t know how else to describe it!

The original recipe that was the base for this bread was one my mom used to make all the time.  I remember she had torn it out of Cooking Light magazine and pasted into a notebook she had with other recipes a LONG time ago.  I’m talking like 20 years ago!  It got so old and worn out that she eventually made a photocopy of it which now sits inside plastic sleeves to make sure it can last for another 10+ years!

The recipe + ingredients.

Bananas!  Make sure they are ripe so they are easy to smush!

Smushed bananas

I have been wanting to make this bread because it reminds me of my mom and I have been missing her a lot since she moved back to Taiwan.  The first three days were so so SO hard.  I think I may have cried straight through them!  Every time I saw something of hers– her robe, the cup she used to drink her tea in, her face cream– it was automatic waterworks.  Bernard also knew that she was missing and kept looking for her in her old room, the bathroom, and sitting by the door, head tilted listening for the slightest sound thinking it could possibly be her footsteps.  Seeing him like that added to the heartache.

It’s funny, for most of my adolescence I wanted to move out and live away from home, but now instead of me leaving, it’s my mom who needed to go.  I have literally never been apart from her my whole life– she was always with us when we were kids, I have always lived with her except for a year when I moved out but was 5 minutes away so I don’t think that really counts.  And there’s no way to prepare for something like this, when it happens it happens and you learn to deal with it day by day and continue your life.

It’s been…wow almost a month actually, and there’s a lot less crying and a lot more Skyping!  Thank goodness for technology!  Bernard is adjusting as well!  And while it is hard, I am also very happy my mom is able to spend time with her mom now, since she was away for almost 30 years. All of our family basically lives in Taiwan so it’s nice she can spend time with all of them– they have a lot of catching up to do!  I also feel like although we are physically miles away, it has brought us closer. We talk and email everyday, and I feel very much connected to her and I think this also helps us argue less, which is a plus!

Chocolate chips make everything better!

Jackson Pollock style PB

So today I made this bread, the one she has made for my brother and I so many times before throughout our entire lives, and it was the definition of “comfort food”.  My mom was acutally the first one to try egg replacers when I became vegan and the first thing she baked was this!  I’ve added a few other ingredients because I have been obsessed with the banana-chocolate-peanut butter combo lately and I think it’s a winner :).  I hope you enjoy and this brings a little bit of comfort to you and your belly if you are needing a little bit of that today.

Ready to bake!

Can't wait to see how these turn out!

Let's eat!

Banana Peanut Butter Swirl Chocolate Chip Bread

Adapted from Mary Simpson, RD’s recipe in Cooking Light.

You will need a hand mixer for this recipe.
Click here for a printer-friendly PDF version of the recipe only (no images).

– 1 1/4 cups AP Flour
– 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
– 1 tsp baking soda
– 1/4 tsp salt
– 1/2 cup sugar
– 1/4 cup vegetable oil
– 1 egg replacer
– 1 cup mashed ripe bananas (about 2 medium or 3 small)
– 1 tsp vanilla extract
– 1/2 to 1 cup of non-dairy chocolate chips
– 2 heaping spoonfuls of peanut butter (you can put more if you’d like, this just gives it a hint of PB)
– extra oil to coat pans

In a small mixing bowl, combine the flours, baking soda, and salt.  Mix well and set aside.

In a medium mixing bowl, place the sugar and oil and beat at medium speed for 2 minutes. Add the egg replacer and beat well.

With the mixer running on low, add in the flour mixture and bananas, beginning and ending with the flour mixture.  Blend well after each addition.  Stir in vanilla.  With a spatula scrap the sides and make sure there are no bits of flour at the bottom of the bowl.

Stir in chocolate chips.  Drizzle the spoonfuls of peanut butter into the batter and stir a few times to spread it into the batter but not completely mix (like when you are marbling something).

Pour the batter into a greased 8″ x 4″ x 2″ loaf pan or split batter evenly between two mini loaf pans (which is what I did).

Bake at 350F for about 20 to 30 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean.  This is a little tricky because I kept getting a lot of melted chocolate and banana on my pick so hard to tell if it was done or not!  After poking around a few different spots I was able to see that it was done.

Cool for 15 minutes.  Slide a spatula around the edges to loosen and remove from pan to completely cool.

Definitely eat this with a glass of your favorite non-dairy milk, it’s the perfect compliment to the sweet chocolate chips and peanut butter!

Sliced and ready to eat!

Enjoy!

Heart + Message Embedded Valentine’s Day Cookies

Happy Love Day!  Now that I am officially finished making and sending Valentine’s Day cards, it’s time to make some Valentine’s Day treats!

I actually made these heart embedded chocolate chip cookies last year, but the chocolate chips were getting in the way,  so I wanted to try with sugar cookies which is definitely the way to go!

These cookies are Valentine’s Day themed, but the concept can be used for so many other holidays, birthdays, and celebrations.  You can embed someone’s name in the cookies or the age of a birthday girl or boy, change up the cookie colors, use different cutters for the centers– there are lots and lots of possibilities!

Below are a some ideas with hearts and messages of love!  I split the dough into two portions and tinted one a light pink.  I used cranberry juice as an alternative for food coloring which made it a nice pretty subdued shade of mauve.  I think it may have come out a little brighter if I had used all white flour in the cookie dough instead of substituting some for whole wheat flour.

Heart + Message Embedded Valentine’s Day Cookies

I used half of this basic sugar cookie recipe as is, and half I used cranberry juice in place of the 1 TBS of non-dairy milk.  You can add more juice if you’d like but you may have to add a little bit more flour as well to keep the consistency from getting to sticky/watery.

Keep in mind you do have to refrigerate the dough for a few hours before it will be ready to handle.  It can also be made the night before or a few days in advance.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the cookie dough.  You can do each color at a time instead of two at the same time.  The dough may be a little crumbly at first, you may need to knead or work the dough a bit to warm it up.  Then it should be easy to work with!

Cut out the main cookie shape.  I made some hearts and some circles.

Cut out the embedded shape.  I think the heart cookies as is with the centers cut out are cute as well.

Swap centers and place into cookie- that’s it!

Make a bunch, carefully transfer to a parchment lined baking sheet, bake for about 8 minutes and they are done!

I also made some love cookies…

…as well as some round ones with hearts in the centers.

Hope you have a wonderful day celebrating all the special people you love and remember to let them know not just today, but everyday!

Justin’s 1st Dr. Seuss Birthday!

I think one of the coolest things about making cakes is being a part of events that I otherwise wouldn’t get to experience, two of my favorites being weddings (not married) and kid’s birthdays (no kids).

This past weekend I was able to get super hands on with my friend Donna on her son Justin’s Dr. Seuss themed birthday.  She came up with some great ideas to really get into the spirit of Dr. Seuss!  It was exciting to see everything come alive, from idea to reality, to celebrate Justin’s first birthday.

I made him a personal 6″ vegan chocolate cake, with chocolate ganache filling and fresh strawberries.  The cake was inspired by the one on the cover of the book Happy Birthday To You! with the white on top.  The Birthday Bird, holding a cake with 1 candle, tops the cake and the entire thing is finished off a number 1 and red and white Dr. Seuss stripes on the cake board.

The Birthday Bird is made of gumpaste and fondant and details were painted on in black food coloring to give it the same sketchy look it had in the book.  (Scroll down for pics of Justin digging into his cake– literally!)

For the guests, 100 One Fish Two Fish themed cupcakes were made.  Some were vegan chocolate, some were vegan funfetti, and all were topped with blue waves of water and colored goldfish (which you can learn to make a vegan version here).  I also made the cupcake stand, which consists of boxes wrapped in blue paper, stacked, covered in fish cut outs, and topped with the little sweets.

I found One Fish Two Fish coloring pages online and printed them out on colored paper which helped cut down on ink use and no need to color!

Here are more pictures and decorations from the party– it kind of made me want to have a Dr. Seuss party of my own!

Happy 1st Birthday Justin!

These Truffula trees were so fun to make! It was my first time making tissue paper pom poms and I followed this great tutorial by Beehive and Birdnest.  I also really loved this tutorial that makes beautiful flowers out of IKEA napkins by Going Home To Roost!  The tree trunks are made from large construction paper and the black is drawn in with markers.

All the food was inspired by Dr. Seuss books– like the oodles of noodles above from Fox in Socks!

Donna had this great idea of hanging cards of Dr. Seuss quotes from their patio!  I copied pages from the books then printed quotes onto those pages and attached them to colored paper.  The cards are hung with fishing line to give it more of a floating look.   She also found these great spirals to dangle from the patio as well!

This quote card is my favorite :)

A fun Dr. Seuss style outdoor table with activities for the kids!  The great striped fabric was found at IKEA and the Cat in the Hat crowns can be found on Etsy.

This was Justin’s guestbook, made with the Happy Birthday To You! book.

The poem inside was inspired by the one seen on  Little Pumpkin Grace…And Hudson Too! We changed it up a bit to personalize it to fit what happened when Justin entered the world!  Dr. Seuss scrapbook paper can be found at Scrampers and Jo-Ann’s.

It was a very fun day and I can’t wait for Justin to look back on his 1st birthday years from now and see what a great party his parents threw him!

As Dr. Seuss would say,

“Today was good. Today was fun. Tomorrow is another one.”

{Photos of Justin eating his cake are courtesy of Mike Brown of Brownstone Photography}

Pumpkin Farm + Pumpkin Pie!

Happy Fall / Winter to you!

I have been so behind on posting but I am very excited to share with you a new fundraiser coming soon. :)

In the meantime, I wanted to tell you about an awesome place called Tanaka Farms and also post a great vegan pumpkin pie and pie crust recipe I recently came across!

My trip to Tanaka Farms was actually a surprise– I had no idea where I was going!! But my friend said let’s go for a trip and off we went.  I had suspicions we were going to a pumpkin patch since this visit actually took place back in October, but it was much more than that– it was a full blown farm!  I asked what made them think to bring me here and he said, “Because you love farms.” lol That I do!  My dream is to live on a farm and rescue all the animals in the world.  One day, one day.

But for now, I can just visit this 30 acre farm– I never knew there was one that close to me right in Orange County!

Tanaka Farms grows 60 different fruits and vegetables and when we arrived, there were TONS of pumpkins all over the grounds– as far as the eye can see! Small ones, big ones, orange ones, white ones, round ones, lopsided ones.  Everywhere!

We also went on a wagon ride to tour the farm, walked through a corn maze (it’s probably more entertaining for the little ones), visited their market, and I had to walk by their petting zoo to see how the animals were being treated…they looked clean and seemed in good spirits and there were employees throughout to make sure everyone was petting gently and behaving properly.  I wish the animals weren’t stuck in a petting zoo, but at least the conditions were good and they looked healthy.

We ended up not taking any pumpkins home that day (for fear we would let them sit and go bad before we did anything with them and didn’t want to waste a good pumpkin!) but it was a lovely time!  One piece of advice/reminder I have to give– check out the weather report before heading out– it’s all outdoors and it ended up getting pretty toasty for us as we arrived mid-afternoon.  Closed toed shoes are a plus too!

Tanaka Farms now has Christmas trees which will be available until Dec. 16th.  Throughout the year they have different events, such as strawberry, watermelon, and harvest tours.  For more information, visit TanakaFarms.com.

Ever since that trip and as the holidays rolled around, I have craved nothing more than a slice of pumpkin pie!

I got SUPER excited when I saw that Native Foods had it on their menu.  I ordered, picked up, ate dinner, and was all ready to eat my pie when I realized, they gave me extra corn bread and no pie!!!!!! To say the least I was very disappointed but too lazy to drive back.  They did make up for this sad mistake the next time I ordered and mentioned what had happened– they gave me two slices and I was a happy customer.  The pie was yummy and I really liked their granola crust.

So when I was looking for a vegan pumpkin pie recipe, I was looking for something super quick and easy, as it was already Thanksgiving afternoon!  The flavor of the pie is exactly how I remember it to be– the only thing I wasn’t sure of is while it baked on the top, the inside is solid but on the soft side.  The directions say to bake then chill in fridge which I did.  So I will try again and see if I can get the pie to be less soft, but either way it was so good and satisfied my pumpkin pie craving.  The crust was also VERY easy to make and flaky and delicious!

Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving and having a great holiday season so far!

Vegan Pie Crust

Thank you B.B. Grimm for posting this recipe on Food.com!

This recipe yields 1 pie crust for a 9″ pie pan.  I think the one I used was smaller so I had extra dough which can be used to make mini pies or quiches, etc.  It’s great to have on hand!

– 1 1/2 cups flour (can be white or whole wheat or combo of both)
– 1/2 teaspoon salt
– 2 tablespoons sugar
– 1/2 cup oil
– 2 tablespoons orange juice (or vegan soymilk– I used sparkling cider because I had a bottle right next to me)

In a large bowl, place all the dry ingredients and mix well.

Add liquids, mix with a fork until the ingredients become a crumbly consistency.

Pat into 9-inch pan with fingertips.  Fill with pie filling or set aside until ready to use.

Vegan Pumpkin Pie

This recipe is from an article on About.com posted by Jolinda Hackett.  I was able to get 2 pies out of this recipe.

You will need a blender or food processor for this recipe.

– 1 pkg of firm tofu
– 1- 16 oz can of organic pumpkin puree
– 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
– 3/4 tsp ground or freshly minced ginger
– 1/2 tsp nutmeg
– 1/2 tsp salt
-1/3 cup oil
– 1 tsp vanilla extract
– 1 cup brown sugar
– 1 1/2 TBS molasses

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Combine all the ingredients in a food processor or blender and blend until smooth– that’s it!

Pour into pie crust.

Bake for one hour.  Remove from oven, let cool and chill in refrigerator before serving.

A Pretty Creepy Joshua Petker Inspired Birthday Cake

I have always loved art and painting– it’s such a wonderfully free way to be expressive!  There are no right or wrong answers or such things as mistakes.  The “mistake” can be covered up or re-done or that “mistake” might be the brush stroke or paint drip needed to take your piece to where it’s supposed to go.  When I was younger, I thought I would become an artist and pictured myself sitting in Paris with an easel set up (I was very naive and young back then, like 4 years old lol).

I haven’t had the chance to paint in a long time so I love it when I get a cake order that is based on art and I get to do some “painting” on a cake!  This one was perfect for the Halloween season and was a birthday gift to a big fan of Joshua Petker.  It is decorated with vegan decorator’s icing as well as fondant…here is a look at my artist’s palette :)

I was not familiar with Joshua Petker’s work until I got this cake order, but I highly recommend checking out his site and taking a look at his pieces– I love his use color and his style, and how he can create this painting, that is pretty but creepy at the same time!

Here is the original painting, titled “Head Wound III”:

And here is the cake version:

We personalized it by adding the birthday boy’s age in the dripping black paint, and also his initials, “DSC”, in the painting.

Thank you Frank for this cake order, it helps to provide 70 meals for The EEC preschool/nursery!

Happy Birthday David!

Choo Choo!

A few weekends ago I made a cake for a friend’s son’s 4th birthday!  He is obsessed with trains so a Thomas the Train cake seemed perfect!

The cake was vegan red velvet with a vegan cream cheese filling, crumb coated with vegan decorator’s icing, then covered with fondant.  The bottom part of the train is made by baking a 9″ x 13″ rectangle cake cut into the train shape, and the face is a 6″ round.   With the extra pieces of “scrap” cake, I made wheels, covered them separately with fondant, then attached to the cake.

A portion of proceeds from this cake will be donated to The EEC and provide 80 meals for the children there!

Wishing Tyler a very happy birthday and an awesome year being 4 years old! :)

(Unfortunately I realized the name was going a little downhill after I snapped the pictures so please ignore that– I wish I had remembered to take another shot after I rearranged!)

And here are some pics of the Birthday Boy enjoying his cake :)  My favorite is the one with him eating the cake but how Thomas’ face had been saved!