Remember when I had chocolate cake on the brain? Well, I finally made one…Joy the Baker’s Simple Vegan Chocolate Cake. Livin’ the dream!
Vegan baking is the best kind of baking. No, you don’t get that satisfying feeling that comes with blending butter and sugar, but you do get to eat the batter without the threat of salmonella. I mean, yeah, I eat the batter either way, but this way I don’t have that tiny little voice in the back of my head, warning me of my impending doom.
My favorite thing to do on the weekends is bake in the morning (not that kind of bake, you guys. I’m a grown woman), while listening to podcasts and drinking coffee. That’s how I made this cake, and it was a lovely morning. But it’s only partially about the process…I got a cake out of it, and I was so excited I couldn’t even wait until I took a picture to eat a piece.
It’s super easy and delicious. Make it for yourself!
This smoothie was inspired by Shutterbean’s Green Energy Shake. That girl knows her kale! This smoothie offers you the goodness of greens, the refreshment of OJ, the doctor-repelling powers of apples, and a little spicy kick from ginger. And a banana, of course, because what good is a smoothie without a banana?
Spring Forward Green Smoothie
inspired by Shutterbean
A couple of large kale leaves, washed and torn into pieces, stem removed
1 cup OJ (maybe more or less, depending on your smoothie style)
1 frozen banana, in chunks
1 small apple, cut into chunks
a half-inch piece of ginger, diced
Blend the OJ and kale together until there aren’t any big kale chunks swirling around in there. Add in the frozen banana chunks, apple chunks, and ginger. Blend it, drink it, enjoy it!
I really need to stop using the word chunks, huh?
Are you tired of me talking about Joy the Baker? Well, sorry. I can’t stop/won’t stop, because she is a super-powered inspirational lady to me. She’s smart, driven, talented, stylin’ and a positive thinker. She just gets things done: a blog, a book, and a podcast. Not just a podcast, either, but an entire podcast network. Much like Nerdist or Earwolf, Joy the Baker is running a podcast empire, and I love her for it.
Her own podcast, cohosted by Tracy from Shutterbean, is my go-to car listen right now.
Here’s why I love the Joy the Baker podcast:
1. I always laugh.
Joy and Tracy are very funny. Not in a “trying to make jokes” sort of way, but in the “natural storyteller” sort of way. They are so good at relaying the weird, awkward moments in their lives in colorful, descriptive terms. You can tell that they’re real-life friends who care about each other, and they have super-interesting lives.
2. It’s good advice.
I can truly say I’ve learned so much from the Joy the Baker podcast. From easy party appetizers to blogging tips to what to buy a guy for Valentine’s Day (fancy gin/an ax), you’ll learn things you didn’t even know you wanted to know!
This podcast is a guaranteed pick-me-up. Just like Joy’s site, the podcast is pretty, cheerful, and light. Joy and Tracy aren’t mean to people and they don’t complain. They talk a lot about their goals and dreams, and I like that! I honestly look forward to my ridiculously long commute when there’s a new JTB podcast.
Give it a listen! Do you like food, baking, laughing, and being happy? Of course you do! Check out the Joy the Baker Podcast with Tracy of Shutterbean.
Hey nerds, it’s March 14th. You know what that means…PIE DAY. Get it? 3/14? 3.14? Pi? Pie? Right. Get excited.
In high school, the teacher I had for algebra, trig and calculus (that’s right, I took all three. Fellas, the line starts to the right) always celebrated pie day by making us all bring in a pie. We still weren’t allowed any goof off time, though. We had to learn and eat pie at the same time. Even though the other algebra class got to watch Stand And Deliver on the last day of the semester, she made us work because, “in this class, we work every day.” As a result, I’ve never seen Stand And Deliver and I know nothing about teaching math to underprivileged gang members.
But enough about that. Do you want to see some pictures of delicious pies from my favorite food blogs? Sure you do!
Strawberry Banana Cream Pie from Joy the Baker
Pear Custard Pie from Shutterbean
Chocolate Pudding Pie from Smitten Kitchen. Papa W’s favorite. Seriously, if you don’t like a good chocolate pudding pie, get out of my life.
Orange and Cream Pie by Joy the Baker. I actually made this one, so the picture above is taken by me. Highly recommended!
Toll House Chocolate Chip Pie from Nestle. This is what I always brought in for Pi/Pie Day. People always thought it was a pecan pie. It wasn’t.
Peach Blueberry Pie from Joy the Baker (again). This is another one I’ve actually made. So good!
I hope you all enjoy your Pie Day. As for me, I’ll have to save all the pie baking for the weekend, when I have more time. Why can’t my life just revolve around pie?!
For some reason I’ve been thinking of nothing but cake lately. Typically I only make cakes on my boyfriend’s birthday (then, it’s always either strawberry with strawberry frosting or funfetti) or for my mom’s birthday if Alex isn’t around to do a better job. So why do I have cake on the brain? Probably because I started reading Aimee Bender’s The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake, which showcases this beauty on the cover:
But right now, what I wouldn’t give for a slice of thick, dense chocolate cake with a glass of ice cold milk. And I don’t even like milk.
Here are some chocolate cakes I would like for you to make and then deliver to me:
Joy the Baker’s Simple Vegan Chocolate Cake. I’m not vegan (obvi), but I do not discriminate when it comes to baked goods.
Joy the Baker’s Chocolate Avocado Cake. If I can add an avocado to something, I will.
Shutterbean’s Chocolate Earl Grey Cake. Oh my Lord, tea in a cake? I might need to make this, like, yesterday.
Smitten Kitchen’s Everyday Chocolate Cake. This is actually adapted from the cookbook Magnolia Bakery At Home, which is maybe my all-time favorite cookbook. Somehow I don’t own it, so if you would like to buy it for me, feel free to send it along.
Food Coma’s Flourless, No Bake Chocolate Cake. Seriously, what is this delightful little thing? Three ingredients? Is this just like straight-up ganache? I need to try this.
And finally, this Winning Hearts and Minds Chocolate Cake, found on Shutterbean but originally from the most amazing food memoir I’ve ever read, Molly Wizenberg’s A Homemade Life (read the first chapter here!). I can recommend this from personal experience, because I made it as soon as my tears dried after reading the absolutely gorgeous, touching last chapter of her book. This was her wedding cake, and it’s truly perfect. No frosting, which is a plus (I love frosting, for about three bites). It’s soft without being mushy, like a cross between a cake and a gooey brownie. I think I’ll make it again soon.
Do you have any favorite chocolate cake recipes? Let me know in the comments!
True story: I love to bake. Truer story: I worry myself into a panic about whether or not I’m “healthy,” whatever that means. This sometimes means I think twice about making, say, a yellow cake with chocolate icing or a big pan of funfetti anything. But what about a “healthy” baked good? That’s okay, right? Like, if there’s fruit or a vegetable in something that basically cancels out the sugar and flour and butter…I’m pretty sure. Oatmeal raisin cookies are like eating oatmeal, banana bread is good for you, and zucchini bread counts as one of my 5-a-days. Don’t try to tell me otherwise, because I’m not listening.
Morning Glory Muffins are some of my favorite “healthy” baked goods. If you live around Columbus, try the ones from Northstar. With a bright orange Shooting Star (orange, carrot, lemon and ginger juice)? Divine! If you don’t live near Columbus, don’t worry. You can make your own wonderful Morning Glory Muffins in the comfort (or discomfort, it’s up to you!) of your own kitchen. They contain whole wheat flour, apples, carrots, raisins, and coconut, which means that these are basically health food. Just don’t say the name “Morning Glory Muffins” around my brother or boyfriend, because they will laugh at you. It does sound dirty. Why does it sound dirty? Whatever, let’s make some muffins!
Morning Glory Muffins
from Whole Foods
1 1/3 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup packed natural brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 Fuji apple, cored, peeled and diced
1/2 cup seedless raisins
1/2 cup grated carrots
1/2 cup walnuts, finely chopped
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons dried flaked unsweetened coconut, divided
Preheat oven to 350°F. In a large bowl, mix together flour, sugar, brown sugar, baking soda, cinnamon and salt; break up any brown sugar lumps with your fingers or a wooden spoon.
In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, oil and vanilla, then add to flour mixture and stir just until combined. Add apples, raisins, carrots, walnuts and 1/4 cup of the coconut and stir gently until well combined.
Spoon batter into 16 paper-lined muffin tins, filling each about 2/3 full. Top evenly with remaining 4 teaspoons coconut and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until cooked through.
Some changes from me:
-Like anyone is going to know if you ran out of whole wheat pastry flour and you just use regular flour. Just do you, girl! We’re not gonna tell anybody.
-I use half the amount of oil and sub the rest with applesauce, because I am really attached to the healthy theme. I also use sweetened applesauce, so I cut back on the sugar. I actually cut back on the sugar anyway, because all the fruit makes these pretty sweet.
*Photo is from Whole Foods. Obviously I did not take that picture.
I saw a commercial for Peanut Butter Cheerios on Saturday and I bought a box on Sunday. That’s because I have my PRIORITIES straight. This post was originally intended to tell you how awful the slogan is (“More Grains, Less You”…I’m sorry, what? Am I eating a Thinner pie? Is there a gypsy curse?) but how it doesn’t matter because the product sells itself.
Then I found this video, which I cannot recommend highly enough. This guy is really good at reviewing Cheerios, and he definitely knows his peanut butter cereals. Also, this is probably the only review of Peanut Butter Cheerios that makes a Spike Lee reference. Actually, this is probably the only review of Peanut Butter Cheerios.
For Christmas, Chase bought me The Bust DIY Guide to Life, which was definitely a great present. In addition to recipes and crafts, it also has practical advice on things like having a natural birth, doing your taxes, and going camping. But you know I paid the most attention to the recipes.
The book included what has come to be known as my signature dish: Amy Sedaris’s Cheese Ball. It’s also in her entertaining book, I Like You, and it’s always a big hit at parties. I used to make this in college, and I don’t want to brag too much, but I did once receive a 2 a.m. drunk dial from a guy demanding I bring a cheese ball to a party the next night (full disclosure: it was not a potential suitor. It was a very nice gay man. Obviously). This also tells you a lot about the sorts of parties I went to; of course I needed to bring a retro party food instead of booze! Anyway, people really love this cheese ball, including my lactose-intolerant boyfriend. Amy Sedaris knows her stuff.
This New Year’s Eve, H. and I had a few friends over for board games and food. I still like to party just as hard as I did in college. Of course I made the cheese ball, as well as some drinks. Here’s the recipe, which I always halve (and it still makes a softball sized cheese ball).
Amy Sedaris’s Cheese Ball
2 8-oz packages of cream cheese
2 cups of shredded smoked gouda (I almost always use something cheaper, but smoked cheese is definitely better if you really like the people you’re feeding)
1 stick of unsalted butter
2 TBSP milk, cream, or half-and-half
2 tsp steak sauce
2 cups crushed nuts
Let the cream cheese, cheese, and butter come to room temperature and beat them together with the milk and steak sauce. Form it into a ball (it helps to refrigerate it a bit first, or at least cover your hands in plastic wrap or maybe latex gloves if you keep those in your kitchen. I don’t because I’m not a big creep). Roll it in the crushed nuts and refrigerate. Let it soften at room temperature for a bit before you serve it or else it will break everyone’s crackers. Eat way too much and keep saying, “WHY DO I KEEP EATING THIS CHEESEBALL?”
But a party is not made of cheese balls alone! A lady needs booze. The Bust DIY book’s guide to cocktail parties told me that you should have beer, wine, and either a signature drink or vodka and some mixers. I bought some (of the cheapest possible) vodka, but I decided to make a drink because I don’t like beer and I only kind of like wine. The book had a recipe for a Pineapple-ito, which is basically a mojito but with less lime and more pineapple. It was pretty delicious.
Pineapple-ito (adapted from the Bust DIY Guide to Life)
Put a handful of mint into a pitcher. Put in equal parts of rum, pineapple juice, and club soda. Stir in the juice of two limes (or put in a few squirts from one of those plastic limes filled with lime juice…whichever’s your style). Drink a lot and don’t pay attention to the game Parcheesi.
I have a lot of fears. Knitting, for one. Do you know how many years I’ve had “learn to knit something other than a scarf” on my goal list? I don’t know either. I’ve lost track, and yet I still only know garter stitch. Remember that time I was afraid of pie crust? Similarly, I have a longstanding fear of yeast. So many times in my life, I’ve attempted to make french bread, rolls, or a pizza crust, only to have the dough remain a tiny, tough lump. For the life of me, I could not get that damn yeast to activate. In general, I don’t like any food that’s fickle; I stay away from desserts that can’t be made on humid days, or anything you need a candy themometer to make. So even though I’ve been craving cinnamon rolls for weeks, making them never even crossed my mind. I looked up places to buy them. I found recipes that didn’t involve yeast. And then, finally, it hit me like a ton of flour, sugar, and butter: why didn’t I just make them myself? What was I afraid of? A fear of yeast, just like a fear of knitting or pie crust, isn’t a real fear. I mean, it’s not like cults or serial killers, both of which pose a real and persistent danger to all of us daily. The worst that can happen with a pie crust is that it turns out to be not so good, and it would take a real effort to harm yourself with a blunt knitting needle. So what was I so afraid of when it came to cinnamon rolls? Was I afraid of failure? Was I afraid of trying? Was I just afraid of hard work?
Probably the latter.
So this morning, armed with my trusted Betty Crocker recipe, I tackled cinnamon rolls. The recipe in my book was very similar to this one, although the filling involved brown sugar instead of regular sugar. Also, I did not include raisins or nuts.
Guess what, guys? They actually turned into cinnamon rolls! When I saw that the dough had risen, meaning that the yeast activated, I gasped.
They were delicious, but truthfully, they were also a pain in the ass. Cinnamon rolls are time consuming and involve two rising sessions. Cinnamon rolls: the divas of baked goods. Also, you do not need to add near that much flour. I think, in total, I had less than 3 cups in there. I’d recommend making them, but save them for a morning you have a lot of time on your hands. Or maybe just make them when you’re stressed out, because kneading was surprisingly cathartic. These cinnamon rolls absorbed my frustrations.