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!

THE BEST CHEWY CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES EVER

Best Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies EverMake a batch of the best chewy chocolate chip cookies ever and take a break to enjoy a yummy gooey treat.  And they happen to be vegan!  They have gotten two thumbs up from vegans and meat / dairy / egg eaters alike. All the ingredients can be easily found in your pantry and in the grocery store.  The steps for making these are straight forward: beat, add some more ingredients, beat some more, stir in chocolate chips, bake, and eat!  Make them mini or gigantic, chewy or crunchy, (I’m a chewy cookie kind of girl)– either way they go best with a glass of soy or almond milk.  Enjoy!

Recipe for Vegan Chocolate Chip CookiesPS: I also like to make a batch, bake half, and freeze the remaining dough so fresh cookies can be made at any time in the near future.

PPS: They are also amazing with some soy ice cream sandwiched in between– YUM.

Non-dairy Milk and Vegan Cookies

Easy Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies Recipe

The Best Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies Ever

Ingredients

– 1/4 cup soy milk
– 1 teaspoon vanilla or vanilla paste
– 12 oz dairy-free chocolate chips (Trader Joe’s has semi-sweet chocolate chips that don’t contain milk)

In a medium bowl place the creamy ingredients:
- 1 cup of softened soy margarine (I used CANOLEO Soft Margarine– no hydrogenated oils, no trans fatty acids)
– 1/2 cup brown sugar
– 1/2 cup sugar

In another medium bowl place the dry ingredients:
- 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
– 1/2 tsp salt
– 1 tsp baking soda (NOT baking powder)

Directions

With a hand mixer, blend together the soy margarine and sugars.  Once blended, add the soy milk and vanilla.  Mix well; the mixture should be a creamy consistency.

Add the dry ingredients to the creamy ingredients, mix with a hand mixer or a wooden spoon.  Fold in the chocolate chips.

Drop spoonfuls of dough onto a greased or parchment paper lined baking sheet.  (I like to use a tablespoon to scoop up the dough and make them consistent in size.)  Bake at 350F for about 8-10 minutes or until edges are brown.  If you like chewy cookies, take them out of the oven right as the edges turn light brown.

Click here for a printer-friendly PDF version of the recipe only (no images).

I originally found this recipe on Compassion Over Killing‘s website a few years ago.  It looks like the link isn’t available anymore but head on over to their newly revamped site for more info on choosing compassion when it comes to your food.

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!

No-Knead Dinner Rolls

These rolls smell and taste amazing right out of the oven!  They are also very easy to make and you can get it done without getting your hands dirty!  If you are looking for something to bring to a holiday dinner, you can make these in the morning/early afternoon and you are good to go.  This recipe also works as a great base, and you can experiment by adding different herbs and seasonings for extra flavor.

Please note before you get started that you will need about 2 hours of rising time.  There is also an option for you to make the day before– just follow the steps and look for the ***.

No-Knead Dinner Rolls

The original recipe is from MarthaStewart.com, this is a vegan version of it.

The recipe below yields about 12 rolls.

– 1 cup warm water (105 to 115 degrees, should feel slightly warmer than your finger when you touch it)
– 1 pkg of active dry yeast (1/4 oz)
– 1/8 cup of sugar
– 4 TBS vegan butter, melted
– 1 egg replacer
– 3/4 tsp salt
– 3 cups of flour (I used a combo of whole wheat and white)
– dried or fresh herbs of your choice, optional

Sprinkle yeast into the cup of warm water.  Give it a few stirs and let it stand until foamy, about 5 minutes.

In a large mixing bowl, make your egg replacer.  To it, add the sugar, melted butter, salt, and herbs (if using).  With a wooden spoon, mix well.

Add the flour.  Stir until a sticky dough forms.  (Ok, I know you said you don’t have to get your hands dirty, but I did put one hand in the bowl to knead in the remaining dry ingredients stuck at the bottom of the bowl.)  Brush top of dough with a light coat of vegan butter.

Cover with plastic wrap and place in a nice warm place so the dough can rise (I usually put it somewhere by the stove).  Let it rise until it has doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.

Once the dough has risen, you can portion it two different ways (flour your hands and sprinkle addition flour on dough as needed):
– If you are good at eyeing things, you can just small handfuls of dough and shape them into smooth balls by bringing the edges underneath and tucking them in.  (I used this method which may be why I have an extra 13th roll since the sizes of my rolls vary.)
– If you are more precise, turn the dough on a well-floured work surface.  Roll the dough into a thick even log.  Cut into 12 equal pieces (cut the dough in half, then cut the halves into halves, then cut those pieces into thirds).

Brush your baking pan with vegan butter (you can use a 9″ x 13″ dish or round/rectangle/square baking pans– just make sure they provide enough room for your rolls to double in size).

Place each ball of dough into the pan, only touching slightly at the edges.  If you have room, you can leave a little space between the rolls.

Cover loosely with plastic wrap.  Let the dough rise again in a warm place, until doubled in bulk, 30 to 40 minutes.  ***You can also refrigerate the dough at this point, for at least 4 hours and up to 24 hours.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Remove plastic wrap and brush the rolls with vegan butter.  Bake until tops are golden brown, about 35 to 40 minutes.

Pull rolls apart and serve warm.

Justina + Jason’s Wedding Cake: Flora + Fun

I had so much fun re-creating Justina and Justin’s wedding invitations into cake form for their big day!  Their 2 tiered cake sits on a real tree stump base and is adorned with succulents, billy balls, and berries in their wedding colors, slate grey and a bright lemon yellow.

You can see more of J + J’s beautiful, creative, vintage, and unique wedding over at Real Weddings! One of my favorites from their celebration is the canvas guestbook where friends and family helped to create a one-of-a-kind masterpiece to add to the couple’s art collection (slide 23 of 25).  I am also really excited to share that the cake made it into this piece and you can find it on slide 24 of 25!  It is so amazing as I have always been a HUGE Martha Stewart fan!

Here are some photos from concept to cake!

The sketch…

…to cake!

One of my favorite elements of the cake was Luda, Justina’s cat, who made an appearance– I love including our furry family members on the big day!

Thank you J+J for helping to provide meals and wishing you a lifetime of love, laughter, and happiness!

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.