Insanely Moist Carrot Cake

First off, I have some exciting news! I had my baby! Jack was born two weeks ago and he is perfect. Check out my other blog for his full birth story
My mom came for a month to help take care of us—for which I am insanely grateful. She left today and I wish she could come back already. She took care of all the cooking so I apologize for not having any new recipes lately. However, she made me an awesome treat for Easter that I wanted to share.
Carrot cake will always remind me of my grandmother. No one else in my family likes carrot cake but me, so she only made it when I was visiting. Sweet carrots, rich cream cheese frosting, and the smile on her face when I took the first bite. Such happy memories. Then my mom burst my bubble few years ago and told me she used a box mix. Oh well, I still cherish those memories. At least she would doctor it up with extra carrots, walnuts, and raisins.
So I asked my mom if she would make me a carrot cake for Easter. She also used a box mix but doctored it up. Now, no offense to late grandmother, but my mom’s cake was AMAZING. Light but insanely moist. Just the right amount of sweetness with light creamy frosting. 
This recipe makes one sheet cake. Because this cake is vegan and does not have eggs, it will not rise significantly. As a result, I would not suggest making this into a layer cake. 
Carrot Cake
Cake
1 box carrot cake mix (check to make sure it is vegan)
1/4 cup applesauce
1 can crushed pineapple in juice
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
Frosting
1 container of vegan cream cheese 
1 cup powder sugar 
Pre-heat the oven to temperature for a sheet cake as specified on the box. 
Spray a baking sheet pan with cooking spray.
In a large bowl, mix together all the cake ingredients. Use the whole can of pineapple, juice included. 
Bake according the the directions on the box. However, since there are no eggs it may take a bit longer. Adjust the time as needed. Like a regular cake, a toothpick inserted in the middle should be clean when removed.
Once the cake is cooled, make the frosting. Mix together the cream cheese and powder sugar. It will just be a light frosting/glaze. 
Spread on the cake and let it set. 
It’s so insanely moist, I love it. Maybe Jack will take after me and love carrot cake too. Maybe he can have happy memories eating it with his grandma too. And maybe you can bake up this treat and make memories of your own.

Vegan Potato Pancakes

Potatoes pancakes just might one of the best foods on the planet. Salty and flaky on the outside, while soft and warm on the inside.  Do I even need to say anymore?

I grew up knowing them as Polish dish, but they are pretty much the same as Jewish latkes. That’s why I decided to use a Manischewtiz Potato Pancake mix—along with some fresh potatoes. I also used olive oil, not vegetable oil for frying.
And yes, fried white potatoes are not the healthiest thing ever, but they are a nice treat once and awhile. Just eat them in moderation and watch your portion sizes. And these are especially good with a side of homemade apple sauce (I’ll post that recipe soon).

This makes 6 servings (not gonna lie, we ate them all).

Vegan Potato Pancakes
1 box ( 3 oz) Potato Pancake Mix, with no eggs or dairy in it
1 large russet potato, shredded or riced (I riced mine)
1.5 tbs Ener-G Egg Replacer + 2 tbs water, mixed together
3/4 cup cold water
Olive Oil
Salt and pepper
In a large bowl, combine the mix, shredded or riced potato, egg replacer mixture and water. Mix together well.
Heat a few tablespoons of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Don’t put too much oil, this is just shallow pan fry.

Once the oil is hot, drop in a big spoonful (like up to 1/4 cup). It should naturally flatten and spread out. Repeat a few more times, without over crowding the pan. I fit four at a time in mine.

Fry until they are golden on the bottom, about 2-3 minutes. Flip and cook until golden on the other side.

Remove from the oil and let them drain on a paper towel or wire rack.

Repeat until the batter is gone.

Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with some apple sauce and you have one tasty meal!

Peanut Butter and Jelly Pancakes

This is a delicious but simple breakfast I like to make weekend mornings. I used Bisquick (it’s vegan), but you can use any other pancake mix or make them totally from scratch too. I add pumpkin puree to this recipe for more fiber. And acts as a binder. Plus it gives them a lovely golden color.

This recipe makes 6-8 pancakes and will serve two people.

Peanut Butter and Jelly Pancakes
1/2 cup low or no sugar strawberry jam or preserves (also make sure it has no high fructose corn syrup)
1/4 water
2/3 cup Bisquick
1/4 cup pumpkin puree
4 tbs peanut butter, chunky or smooth is fine
1/4 cup soy milk, as needed

In a small sauce pan over medium-low heat, mix together the strawberry jam and water. Heat up it, but do not let it boil. It should be runny is like syrup, not thick like jam.

Cover the pot and turn off the heat, set aside.

In a mixing bowl, add the Bisquick, pumpkin puree, and peanut butter. Mix together well, trying to work out all the lumps. Add a little soy milk at a time to help it smooth out. The batter should be smooth but still on the thicker side.

Spray a skillet with cooking spray and heat over medium-high heat.

Once the pan is heated up, pour on the batter. I like smaller pancakes so I used about 1/4 cup of batter per pancake. If you like bigger ones, do as much as you like.

These will not bubble up like traditional pancakes, so you will need to check the bottoms occasionally to see when to flip. Once the bottom is slightly browned, flip.

This side will puff up like a traditional pancake, but still check the bottom occasionally until it’s slightly browned too.

Plate up your pancakes and drizzle on your jam syrup.

Now dig in and enjoy! A very filling and comforting breakfast.

Gender Reveal Blueberry Cake

I actually meant to post this like two weeks ago, but life happens (sorry). Anyways, we had the anatomy ultrasound at 19 weeks (I am 21 week now). The baby is looked all healthy, developing correctly, and heartbeat was great. We also found out the gender….we are having a boy! We were hoping for a boy too!

Everyone was betting it was girl, but I had a feeling all along it was my sweet little prince. We decided on the name Jack pretty early on. It is male version of my mom’s name and the name of my father-in-law’s best friend who passed away.  Both our families are very excited too. He is gonna be one very well-loved baby.

So I decided to make a blueberry cake as my gender reveal announcement. I see the ones where people dye cakes half pink and half blue then cut the corresponding color, but I did not want to eat all the artificial dye. Same with the putting blue or pink candy on the inside of a white cake, but again, I didn’t want to eat a bunch of junk.

I did use a both cake mix for this,  I just looked for a one that was vegan and no high fructose corn syrup. I don’t mind using box mixes on occasion and using healthier ingredients to prepare them.

If you were having a girl, you could make this was strawberries or raspberries instead to make it pink. For a gender reveal party, you could frost the cake with white icing then cut into it reveal the berry color. Or if you could just invite people over for dinner and serve the cake without saying anything, and wait till someone asks why a blueberry cake.


Blueberry Cake
Cake:
2 ripe bananas
2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 melted coconut oil
1 cup soy milk
1/2 cup oatmeal
1 box yellow cake mix (I used Duncan Hines)
1 cup frozen blueberries
Optional glaze:
1/2 cup frozen blueberries
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1/2 tbs lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

Grease desired baking pan with a small amount coconut oil. I used a 13×9 dark metal pan.

In a large bowl, mash the bananas.

Add the cinnamon, coconut oil, and milk. Mix together well.

Add the oatmeal and cake mix. Mix together until it all the flour is incorporated.

Stir in the blueberries.

Pour into your baking pan and smooth out evenly.

I baked for 28 minutes, but you may need to adjust the time for different pan sizes. It is done when the center is firm to touch and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Let it cool completely. If you want frost or decorate it differently, then go right ahead. If you want to make the glaze I did…

Add the blueberries, sugar, water and lemon juice into a small pot and bring to boil.

Reduce to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes, until some of the liquid has evaporated and the berries are soft.

Let it cool to room temperature.

Pour evenly over the top of the cooled cake.

Now you a healthier blue cake to celebrate your baby boy (or girl if you do strawberries)!

Wedding Reception and Wholesome Chow Cake

In my last post I talked about our wedding. The only guests were my parents and Michael’s Aunt and Uncle—only because I just wanted something simple.  However, the following Saturday we had a luau party at our home. It was a lot of fun and it wonderful to celebrate with the rest of our friends and family. I will post recipes from the BBQ in the next post.

For this post, I will talk about the amazing cake my best friend Amanda made for me (she may be the antagonist of the sushi post story…). Since I usurped her of maid of honor duties by running off to Vegas, I asked if she would make a small cake for Michael and I to cut at the Luau. And of course I requested it be vegan.

She worked at a bakery before, but is not too familiar was vegan baking. So she turned to mix—but not just any mix. Like me, she does not believe in all artificial junk and chemicals that come in most processed foods. She used Wholesome Chow, a certified organic and non-GMO company. It specializes in gluten-free, vegan, and allergen-free baking mixes.

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Amanda made a two-layer round cake, using the Organic Vanilla Cake Mix and Organic Chocolate Cake Mix (each layer was a different flavor). She added soy milk and Earth Balance Original Buttery Spread.

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The mixes came out well, but did not rise as much as she hoped. I forgot to tell her that vegan cakes never will rise as much as traditional cakes. I should have told her to use the Earth Balance Baking Buttery Sticks and to whip more air in than normal (without over mixing the batter), makes the cake a little more fluffy.

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She frosted with the Organic Vanilla Frosting Mix, once again adding Earth Balance. Then she decorated with brown sugar to make it look like sand and used our kissing Hawaiian salt and pepper shakers as the cake toppers.

IT WAS SO CUTE!!! You did an amazing job Amanda and I am very thankful to have you in my life (and not just for your baking skills).

By the way, this cake is even better when you get to shove it in your husband’s face! Hahaha…

I am going to try other products from Wholesome Chow now….thinking maybe the Organic Chocolate Lavender Cake Mix would be cute for a baby shower and some Organic Hi-Protein Pancake Mix would be great after a morning hike.

Coconut Brownies

I felt patriotic and nice last week, so I made brownies for Independence Day. Michael requested brownies, so I decided to make a big batch and take half to work. To make them patriotic, I decided on red and blue sprinkles, mainly because I already had some at home. For the white, I decided against doing plain frosting. It was just too traditional and boring. I decided on shredded coconut instead, since I was already using coconut oil in the batter. Might as well just keep the same flavors going.

I used box mix for this, mainly because it was just easier. Vegan box mixes are not that hard to find, just read the ingredients. I do not eat processed and packaged foods that often, but a treat once in awhile is always nice.
I made double batch, but you can always just half the recipe and make one.
Coconut Brownies
2 boxes of chewy brownie mix (I used Duncan Hines)
1/3 cup coconut oil
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 tsp cornstarch
1.5 cups vanilla soy milk
1 can of chocolate frosting (I used Duncan Hines)
2 cups shredded sweetened coconut
Red sprinkles
Blue Sprinkles
Pre-heat the oven according to the temperature on the box.
Spray a baking pan (I used a 9×11) with cooking spray.
In a large bowl, combine brownie mix, coconut oil, applesauce, cornstarch, and soy milk. Stir until smooth.
Pour the batter into the baking sheet and cook according to the directions on the package.
Remove from oven and let cool completely.
Once cool, spread on the frosting in a light layer. No need to make it fancy, it’s just there to make the coconut shreds stay.
Cover the frosting with the shredded coconut, covering up as much of the brown as possible.
Next sprinkle on some red and blue sprinkles.
Now you have a patriotic treat!
Michael and my coworkers liked them, yeah! And, if you change the sprinkle colors, they could be for any holiday. Red and green for Christmas. Yellow, pink, and purple for Easter. Purple, gold, and green for Mardi Gras. Black and Orange for Halloween. In your favorite teams colors for the Superbowl or the World Series too. Of what chromatic fun!

Vanilla Pancakes with Apple Compote

I just made this recipe up Sunday morning for a nice treat. It’s easy and came together quickly. I used the Mexican Vanilla my mom brought back from her trip to Mexico.  I make small pancakes because they are easier to manage.

This recipe makes two servings, 5-6 small pancakes total.

Vanilla Pancakes
1 cup Bisquick
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup soy milk
1/4 cup applesauce
2 tsp Vanilla

Spray a pan with cooking spray.

Heat the pan over medium heat.

While it heats, mix together all the ingredients in a bowl. Mix just until combined, it is okay to have a few lumps.

Once the pan is hot, pour about 1/6 of the batter into nice circle on the pan.  Repeat 2 to 3 more times, depending on how much space you have on the pan.

Once the bottom browns lightly, flip and brown lightly on the over side.

Repeat the previously two until all the batter is gone.

Apple Compote
2 Honey Crisp apples, cut into small pieces
1/2 cup sugar
1.5 cups water
1 tbs cornstarch
Dash of salt

In a small sauce pan, add the chopped apples, sugar, and water.

Bring the pan to boil over medium-high heat.

Continue to boil until the apples soften slightly and turn a light golden color.

Reduce the heat and add the cornstarch and salt.

Cook for a few more minutes until the sauce thickens slightly. Then remove from the heat and top your pancakes with it.

Flavorful and fluffy pancakes with sweet crisp apple compote, good way to start the day! I had some soy bacon on the side.

Stuffed Pumpkin

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This dish was fantastic and so adorable…too bad I forgot to take any pictures of it! I can at least post the recipe so you can make your own adorable little stuffed pumpkin.  I took this to my second Thanksgiving on Friday since we had to travel two hours. I just heated it up when I arrived.

Stuffed Pumpkin
1 small pumpkin (Mine had about an 6 inch radius)
Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper
2 cups cornbread stuffing (I used a box mix, but you can make your own as well)
1/2 of a block of extra firm tofu, drained and dried well and cut into small cubes
2 stalks of celery, chopped
1/2 of a small onion, chopped

Pre-heat the oven to 450 degrees.

Cut the stem off the top of the pumpkin and hollow out the inside (detailed instructions on my pumpkin craving post, just minus the actual craving part).

Coat the inside of the pumpkin with some olive oil, then season with salt and pepper.

In a bowl, combine the stuffing, tofu cubes, chopped celery and chopped onions.

Stuff the pumpkin with the stuffing mixture. Make sure to leave a little room at the top. Cover the stem with foil and place back on top.

Place on a baking sheet and bake for 1 to 1.5 hours. The pumpkin should be tender enough that a fork can easily pierce through it.

Now remove the stem, and cut into slices. You eat both the filling and pumpkin flesh. Goes lovely with some gravy.

Next time I promise to remember the pictures…

Orange Waffles with Blackberry Sauce

I actually made this breakfast back on Halloween, but have not had the time to post it yet. Like I mentioned before, Michael loves waffles, and also loves the Giants. So to celebrate them winning the World Series, I made orange and black waffles.  Rather than use chemical food coloring or artificial flavoring, I decided to use fresh fruit. These came out so good that I am adding them to my regular breakfast rotation.

I used Bob’s Red Mill Organic Pancake and Waffle mix,  but you can use any mix you like. Or you can  make them totally from scratch. This makes four waffles.

Orange Waffles with Blackberry Sauce

Sauce:
2 cups water
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup fresh blackberry
Juice from half an orange
pinch of salt

Waffles:
1 and 1/2 cup waffle mix ( I used Bob’s Red Mill Organic 7 gain Pancake and Waffle Mix)
1/2 cup apple sauce
3/4 cup soy milk
1 tsp oil
Juice from half an orange
Zest from one whole orange

For the sauce, in a small pot over medium,  add all the ingredients for the sauce together.

Bring to boil, the reduce heat to a simmer.

Let it cook down until it reaches desired consistency. I like mine a little on the runny side.

For the waffles, heat up your waffle iron according to the directions.

Mix together all the ingredients just until combined.

Pour the batter into the waffle iron and cooking according to the directions.

Once the waffles are done, drizzle on the blackberry sauce and enjoy!

A lovely hot waffles, loaded with antioxidants and vitamins. Great way to start the morning and celebrate the Giants!

Pumpkin Waffles

I thought I would make a special breakfast this morning because this afternoon I am heading to San Francisco for the 4th annual FoodBuzz Blogger Festival! I wanted to go last year but I was in Hawaii and couldn’t miss school.  Now I live in the Silicon Valley so I can attend!

One of Michael’s favorite breakfasts in waffles. And he likes my homemade ones better than frozen ones. Michael was very sweet last weekend and took me to the Half Moon Bay Pumpkin Festival (see my other blog for a review) and afterwards took me to Bob’s Pumpkin Patch.

He bought me a huge pumpkin that I craved as soon as we got home (see my post from last year on how to crave a pumpkin). There were big chunks left over so I decided to save them. I roasted them, mashed them, and added it to my normal waffle recipe.

This makes 4 waffles.

Pumpkin Waffles
1/4 cup mashed pumpkin (I roasted and mashed my own, but canned is fine)
1 cup Bisquick
1/2 cup soy milk
1/4 cup apple sauce
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp agave

If you want to roast your own pumpkin pieces, I suggest 450 degrees wrapped in foil for 25 minutes.

Pre-heat your waffle iron and spray with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, mix together everything until combined. A few lumps are okay.

Pour half the batter into the waffle iron. Cooking according to the directions for your iron.

Once it’s all golden and crispy, and remove and top as desired. I just did syrup (check to make sure your syrup is high fructose corn syrup free!).

My next post will be all about the fun I had at the Festival!