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!

Columbia River Gorge Trip: Brownies, Full Sail Brewery and Tofurky

Picture from here

Summer classes ended so I went home to Oregon for a little bit before fall semester starts. My friend Amanda invited me to come visit her in The Dalles (well, more like demanded since we haven’t seen each other in a year). Then my UHH friend Michael was in Hood River doing an internship for one of our geology professors, and said I should come see him too. So, I borrowed my dad’s car and headed down the beautiful Colombia River Gorge.

If you have never been, it’s defiantly worth a trip. The landscape is truly breathtaking.  As you drive east from Portland you transition from lush forests to a high desert, while passing alongside waterfalls, mountain peaks, high cliffs, and the lovely Columbia River itself. 

I stayed one night in Hood River with my professor and his family, which was very nice of them, so I decided to bring them a treat as a thank you. I made my favorite brownies, Chocolate Brownie Mix from Pamela’s Products. They can be made vegan or non-vegan, just follow the directions on the package. Here is how I make them:

Pamela’s Product Brownies
4 tbs water
1/2 cup vegan margarine 
1/4 hemp milk

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and spray a baking pan with cooking spray. 

In a small bowl, mix together the egg replacer and the 4 tbs of water. 

In a large bowl, add the brownie mix, egg replacer and all remaining ingredients. Mix together just until combined. 

Pour into the pan and bake for about 20 minutes. They are done when a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Even my non-vegan brother and dad wanted some. My brother happily ate the one that wouldn’t fit on plate I took to Hood River.

When I got into town Michael and Dr. Anderson were still out in the field so I explored downtown for a bit. It didn’t take too long before I ended up at Full Sail Brewery. Their beer is vegan (click here to learn about what makes beer vegan or not) and the food at the brewpub is good too.

What I like about them, and most Oregon breweries, is that they use local, quality ingredients. I had the hummus plate–just didn’t eat the feta— and a pint of the LTD 03. The beer was very hoppy, but very good. Take the tour while you are there too, you get a free glass afterwards. 

And, right next door to Full Sail is one of the best vegan things ever: the Tofurky Factory! I didn’t go in but when I go stay at peoples houses I usually bring my own food to make it easier on my hosts so I brought some Tofuky Italian Sausages with me. I don’t know how they do it, but Tofurky products actually taste and have the texture of meat. I cannot express how much I love this company and its products. The sausages are juicy and get nice grill marks on them too.

After Hood River, I stayed a few days in The Dalles with Amanda and her family. Although not vegan, I brought them Mauna Loa Chocolate Covered Macadamia Nuts from Hawaii. Amanda said her sister already devoured most of them. And, Amanda’s dog Lilly is so freaking cute I just felt the need to put her on here.