Vegetable Burgers in Bulk + Frozen

>> Monday, September 30, 2013

We've covered a lot of meals this month, haven't we? And as I mentioned in my freezer month cooking tips -- I love simple recipes that mix together using just my two hands. This veggie burger recipe is great because you don't need many tools to make it. And you can customize using any vegetables or grains you have on hand within reason.

Use black beans or kidney beans or even garbanzos. Sub in brown rice or quinoa for oats. Use sweet potatoes or parsnips instead of carrots or spice things up with jalapeno peppers. You get the idea, just stick to the basic ratios and adjust the moisture content as needed. The goal is for it to be moist, but not sticky when you form the mix into patties.

Here we go!


What you'll need . . .
  • 2 cups black beans, drained + rinsed
  • 3 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 large bell pepper, diced
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 large carrot, grated
  • 3/4 to 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup whole wheat breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup sunflower or other seeds/nuts
  • 1/4 cup flax meal 
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika + chipotle seasoning
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste 
Method . . . 
  1. Prepare all ingredients ahead of time (be sure to chop everything finely so it will blend well)
  2. Then put your beans in a large bowl and mash gently with your hands. Add in the oats and bread crumbs and toss.
  3. Add the rest of the ingredients and just keep mixing until it's all incorporated, adjusting with more/less dry versus wet ingredients. Check seasoning, too, to make any modifications.


Get a baking sheet and line with parchment or wax paper (I would have done this, but I was out!). Form dough into 12 to 16 patties, depending on the size of burgers you want. Then cover loosely with plastic wrap and freeze for about an hour, until firm. Then transfer patties into freezer bags. To prevent sticking, I put mind in smaller batches in smaller bags and then put four of these smaller bags in one larger freezer bag.

You may also cook some of these burgers right away if you wish -- just use a medium pan with some olive oil over medium-high heat and work to golden brown on each side. Serve with your favorite bread or bun.

To cook once frozen, let thaw completely and then cook using the instructions above.

If you're just catching up, be sure to check out these posts!

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Weekend Things

>> Friday, September 27, 2013

First homemade hot cocoa of the season! I made pumpkin hot chocolate with soy milk instead of almond milk + vanilla extract in place of almond extract. Then I sweetened it with some maple syrup we picked up during our weekend in Vermont.

// Taste the Season //
Pumpkin Buckwheat Bake for 2 via Edible Perspective
Pumpkin Waffles via Smitten Kitchen

 // We are Family //
Happy Family Habits series via Modern Parents, Messy Kids -- I love tip #5

// Cool Running //
A reflective vest is a must-have for dark mornings/evenings.
Stephen swears by active gloves for cold fingers.
I love a toasty ponytail hat or headband.

// Walk Jog Run // 
Hiking 101 -- how to get started, what to consider.
How to Find Time to Run -- creative solutions to common problems.
Braving the Gym Daycare -- what finally worked for us.

// Methods Made Easy //

// Kitchen Essentials //
Cast iron dutch oven + rimmed baking sheet
Stainless measuring cups + various ball jars
Cozy tea kettle + nonslip mixing bowls

// This Time. Last Year(s). //

And here's what you may have missed on Writing Chapter Three:
Have a great weekend!

Psst: You can check out more Weekend Things here + here + here + here + here + here + here + here + here + here + here + here + here + here + here + here + here + here + here + here + here + here.

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Vegan Cinnamon Buns for 2

>> Wednesday, September 25, 2013

On crisp, cool mornings, cereal + milk just doesn't cut it. I prefer warm, hearty breakfasts like oatmeal, pancakes, waffles, etc. Cinnamon buns are a special treat I usually save for holidays because making an entire batch can be overwhelming if it's just our family of three. I mean, I won't lie -- I could put away half of them myself, but I know that's not ideal from a nutritional perspective.

(Psst: Did you see 9 Foods w/ More Sugar Than Doughnuts on Mother Jones?)

Yesterday morning, I was freezing when I woke up. Shivering, in fact. I tied an old blanket around my waist, cranked the heat, and preheated the oven. That nagging voice inside my head begged "cinnamon bunsssssssss!" So, I figured why not take the whole half dozen concept I've used with cookies in the past . . . and apply it to another indulgence?

vegan, no-rise time required!

What you'll need . . . 

For the bun:
  • 1/4 cup + 1-2 tablespoons soy milk (or almond, etc.)
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup white-whole wheat flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • pinch salt
For the filling:
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
 For the glaze:
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • splash vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tablespoon Earth Balance
  • 1-2 tablespoons hot soy milk (almond, etc.)

Method . . .
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly oil two ramekins and set aside. (Alternatively, you can also use a muffin tin.)
  2. Make your buns by combining the flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt in a dish. Then in another bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients (leaving out the extra tablespoons of soy milk at first) and then add to the dry. Dough will be firm, moist -- but not sticky. Add more soy milk accordingly.
  3. Divide dough into two equal sized pieces and then roll out into an oblong shape. 
  4. Make your cinnamon filling by combining all ingredients in a small dish. Then divide the mixture in half and spread onto your flattened buns.
  5. Roll buns with the filling on the inside and then place each one in a prepared ramekin.
  6. Bake for 20 minutes, until lightly browned.
  7. Let cool slightly while you combine the ingredients for the glaze. Then divide + drizzle evenly (depending on how much glaze you like) over your cinnamon buns and ENJOY!

More small batch recipes:
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Vegan Freezer Lasagna

>> Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Of all the vegetarian freezer meals I made this month, the vegan lasagna was by far my favorite recipe. Actually, I didn't follow a recipe while making it, which might be a reason it turned out so well. It was spur-of-the-moment + tossing-stuff-in-a-dish. I was cooking a bazillion 4 other things and just decided I'd use whatever we had in our CSA basket for the week, which is how the ratatouille sauce came about.

It sounds fancy, right? It's not.

Cooking from scratch doesn't need to be fussy or intimidating or time-intensive. It seems that way, but it's not the case at all. Home cooked food doesn't even need to look particularly nice on the plate in my opinion. So long as a dish satisfies and tastes good, it's mission accomplished. Bellies full. Hearts warmed.

This recipe makes 8 sizable portions that are as great for lunch as they are for dinner. 

What you'll need . . .

For the "ricotta" mixture:
  • 1 block extra firm tofu, drained well
  • 1/2 to 1 cup fresh or frozen spinach
  • salt + pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
//  Drain the tofu as well as you can. I actually just used my hands and squeezed over the sink. Then in a small bowl, I combined all the ingredients with my hands and set aside.

For the "ratatouille" sauce:
  • 1 large eggplant
  • 1 large zucchini or other squash
  • 1 large onion
  • Several cloves garlic
  • salt, pepper, olive oil
  • Homemade tomato sauce
//  Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Chop eggplant, zucchini, onion, and garlic and -- on a rimmed baking sheet -- toss in some olive oil, salt, and pepper. Bake in 10 minute intervals until lightly browned. About 30 to 40 minutes. Let cool slightly.

//  Then combine with 1-1/2 to 2 cups tomato sauce (depending on how much veggie mixture you have) in a blender or food processor by pulsing. I left mine quite chunky.

  • 12 sheets no boil lasagna noodles
  • (I used Wegmans, fancy cut, no. 15)
//  Lower oven temperature to 375 degrees F. Get out a 9" by 13" baking dish. Layer starting with 1-1/2 cups sauce covered by 4 sheets of noodles then 1/3 of the tofu mixture. Repeat. Repeat again. Top with remaining tomato sauce. Cover with aluminum foil and let bake for 40 minutes.

If you plan to eat right away, remove foil and let bake another 15 minutes and stand 10 before serving.

If you're freezing, just stick to 40 minutes.

Note: If you aren't vegan, feel free to substitute ricotta cheese in for the tofu, about 2 cups. You can sprinkle the top with bread crumbs or parmesan cheese or whatever else you'd normally like on your lasagna, too.

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

To freeze, let the cooked dish cool overnight in your refrigerator. Then cut into individual portions and wrap in plastic wrap. I put all my wrapped individual portions in yet another airtight container as an extra measure to ward off freezer burn. Worked very well.

When you want to cook it again, let defrost overnight in your refrigerator (or in an afternoon on your kitchen counter) and bake at 350 until the center is warmed through.

If you're just catching up, be sure to check out these posts!

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Pumpkin Deep Dish Pizza

>> Thursday, September 19, 2013

I've regained my appetite (good sign) + the food must go on! I stay sane by stepping into the kitchen to cook. We've been enjoying our freezer meals, but I've made stuff from scratch more than I intended to this month simply because I needed that time to think. To knead dough and zone out. Those of you who love cooking and baking understand. Kitchen therapy for the win!

So, it started way back when with pumpkin garlic knots then pumpkin pizza then pumpkin pesto rolls. Now I'm dishing up deep dish pizza with a new crust recipe that lends better to this style dish. I've made three different variations, and this is the one that has worked the best. If I haven't yet convinced you to try pumpkin in your dough, this might be the time to trust me.

For those of you new to my favorite crust: Why put pureed pumpkin in place of water? Is it just jumping on the fall trend train? Nope. It adds nutrition, obviously, but also a great moisture content and more complex flavor.

I could just be crazy, though. Probably.

enough for two 10 inch pies

What you'll need . . .
  • 1 package yeast (2-1/4 teaspoons)
  • 1/4 cup warm water 
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree (or homemade)
  • 2 teaspoons maple syrup 
  • 1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon olive oil 
  • 2 cups bread flour (give/take)
  • 2 teaspoons salt

Method . . .

  1. In a large bowl, combine the yeast with the water and let proof (get frothy)
  2. Then add in the pumpkin puree, oil, and maple syrup. Whisk well until totally combined. 
  3. Fold in the flour and salt and eventually work to kneading with your hands for several minutes. Start with 1-1/2 cups flour and work up to more until you form an elastic, non-sticky ball. 
  4. Then place back in the bowl, drizzle with some olive oil, cover with plastic wrap or a damp towel, and let rise for 2 hours. 
  5. Punch down, divide into two balls -- use one per pizza. Dough stores in the refrigerator for two days or freeze it for a month.


To make deep dish pizza -- you flip your notions about this dish upside down. The cheese actually goes on FIRST and is then covered with sauce of your choice.

  • Preheat your oven to 475 degrees F. Lightly oil a 10" (or 8" if you want a lot of crust overlap) pan. I used a springform pan for a few of the pizzas and like how it worked better than a standard cake pan. Just my preference!
  • Take your dough and press it into the pan, distributing evenly and working up the sides almost like you'd do for a pie crust.
  • Start with a layer of provolone cheese covering the entire bottom. This will help keep the crust beneath from turning soggy. Then sprinkle with shredded mozzarella.
  • Add a layer of sauce just a bit thicker than you'd normally use on a traditional pizza. You want to cover the cheese below, but not drown it.
  • Sprinkle with Parmesan or other cheese and then bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until edges are browned and cheese is melted (you can cut to check).
  • Let cool 5-10 minutes before slicing.
  • It took me a few goes for my pizza to turn out "right" -- so don't be surprised if you're first try yields too-thick crust or not-crisp-enough, etc. You'll get the hang of it quickly. It's just a different animal.

What sauce you use is up to you.

Here are a few suggestions -- pesto works great, too:
The weekend is a perfect time to try out new recipes, especially pizza recipes, so I hope you'll consider this one for a go.

Happy Friday, everyone!

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Simple Pleasures, no. 1

>> Wednesday, September 18, 2013

A poppy seed bagel sliced + lightly toasted.
Topped with thick slices of mild cheddar cheese.
Broiled to browned perfection.
A tall mug of warmed apple cider.

A fall favorite for sure, though I could eat this meal every day. When I get enough time, I even like to make my own bagels and supplement with Pumpkin Hot Cocoa or Maple-Peanut Butter Hot Cocoa.

What's your favorite fall breakfast?

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Weekend Things (on a Tuesday)

>> Tuesday, September 17, 2013

It's chilly, so I'm getting into deep dish mode. And I'll have a great recipe for pumpkin crust deep dish pizza later in the week! Might be one of my new favorites (behind to the Pumpkin Pesto Rolls, of course.)

// More Dishin' //
Our Deep Dish Veggie Tart is quite a winner, too!

// DIY Season //
DIY Cat Toe Shoes!!! Seriously amazing.
Toddler Art worth hanging.
Spooky Pasta Skeletons in time for Halloween.

// Pantry Essentials //
Here are some things I always have on hand:

// Salivate // 
Ashley's Savory Cornbread Pancakes -- yum!
Perfect Juice for fall (can I make it with my Ninja + cheesecloth method?)
Dorothy's Oreo Peanut Butter -- I can't resist.

// Interesting Reads //
Your Half Eaten Sandwich's Dirty Secret via Mother Jones (on food waste)
How Did This CA Girl Become a Warrior Princess? via Yahoo! -- not so sure about that one.

// Before/After Season Deals //
Sale on Ray Ban's, more sunglasses -- up to 50% off.
Price cut on my favorite Sorel 1964 Boots -- in all shades of the rainbow.
Great prices of Puffy Vests -- my favorite is this one. Might have the pull the trigger.

// This Time. Last Year(s). //

We've got a lot going at home these days + some of it is on Writing Chapter Three:
  • Tomorrow -- Thoughts before Ada's MRI appointment.
  • Ada's MRI -- Our experience at the children's hospital having an MRI under sedation.
  • The Results -- Unfortunately, we didn't get great news about Ada's MRI. 
  • A New Season -- Scenes from the weekend  + trying to live life as normal.
Have a great weekend Tuesday!

Psst: You can check out more Weekend Things here + here + here + here + here + here + here + here + here + here + here + here + here + here + here + here + here + here + here + here + here + here.

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Changing of the Goals

>> Sunday, September 15, 2013

It's funny how we can get so fixated on or dedicated to something, like training, we think is terribly important. Then in an instant, it all seems insignificant and even silly that it mattered so much in the first place. That's sort of where I am with my half marathon training right now (and life in general). I had an awesome week of exercise -- complete with running, swimming, and biking -- and even ran a comfortably fast 10-mile race. I was starting to feel invincible, which is a way I haven't felt in a very long time regarding running.

And then last week I didn't break 10 miles total.

Some of you might know what's going on with us these days. I don't mean to dwell, but it is what it is, so it's hard to ignore. I don't like to be a quitter, however -- I'm almost certain I'm dropping out of October's half marathon. It's just too much to add to the schedule right now and I've made my peace with the ever-changing thing that has now become our lives. We'll get through it and be stronger, better people for it in the end. (I'm starting to think the Wineglass Marathon is jinxed anyway -- the last time I ran the course, I DNFed.)

What I'm taking the time to focus on with my running and myself is just getting one foot in front of the other. Not so much for my physical health (though keeping it up during rough times is certainly important), but more for my mental well being. There have been days when even the thought of lacing up my sneakers and jogging down the street makes me shudder. When I have absolutely no energy to give to anything but stewing and worrying about things I can't control. When looking outdoors and thinking of taking time for myself -- even 20 minutes -- seems far too selfish.

What I realized on tonight's extremely labored and uncomfortable 4-miler (that should have been 12) is that there's nothing selfish at all about taking care of myself. That the number of miles and the pace don't matter. That walk-breaks when I get too inside my head are necessary and welcomed. That just moving along and getting nervous energy out in a positive way is important for me and for those around me.

Those 4 miles hurt more than I'd like to admit, but what hurts more is that overwhelming feeling of paralysis when I do nothing. I need motion to move forward both physically and metaphorically. And I feel lucky to have running as a coping mechanism. In the past, I'd turn to other things to get by, whether it'd be junk food or one too many drinks on a given night or simply not coping at all and letting issues swallow me whole.

So, for the next however long, because at this point we really don't know, I'll get in miles however I can get them. If that's a single mile every other day -- great. If I feel like doing more, fantastic. I know a 1:40 half is in me somewhere, but it will have to wait. I will keep moving with the only goal being momentum.

And perhaps my sanity.

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Reheating Frozen Foods + One-Bowl Corn Muffins

>> Thursday, September 12, 2013

So here we are nearing the halfway point for the month of vegetarian freezer meals. Having most of our dinners decided and already made is crazy amazing. Though the cooking process was intense, I'm already thinking about what we'd like to put on next month's monster menu.

I must say, though, being a rookie at all of this freezer stuff, I underestimated the sort of knowledge I would need with regard to reheating our meals and making them the tastiest they could be (especially related to texture). It's been trial by fire, so I'm picked up some tips pretty quickly and continue to find new ways to make the best of these make-ahead meals.

#1: Don't Cook Completely.

What I should have mentioned in my cooking tips + tricks is that before you freeze, don't cook your meal to mush. I did a pretty good job with this at least with the lasagna and chili (the burgers weren't pre-cooked), but our stuffed peppers are pretty mushy when they're re-heated.

If I could do it over again, I'd cook everything only 3/4 of the way through. Think more al dente (tender/crisp) than done.

#2: Leave Time for Thawing.

I was so excited our first night of eating the freezer meals. I went down to the freezer and put the lasagna in the oven to bake for a while at 350 degrees F, only to discover that I really, REALLY should have thawed the lasagna for a while first. We ate dinner at around 9 PM the first night because the inside of those suckers was ice cold. Literally ice in there after 30 or more minutes of cooking.

Now I take my meals out either the night before (and place in the refrigerator -- when using the pre-made pizza crust) or by noon the day we're eating it (and place on the kitchen counter). That way, it's still cool, but not rock hard in the center. With my soups and chili, I leave it in the airtight container and place it in a bath of hot water to aid with thawing. And as a general rule, I try to use whatever I've thawed within 2 days. I don't know if this is necessary, but I'm weird about food going bad.

#3: Use Your Oven or Stove.

We banished our microwave to the basement long ago, which is another story entirely and definitely an issue of personal preference, but to keep the best texture and flavor, etc. -- I think it's best to take the time to re-heat meals in the oven or on the stove. Yeah, this means time for pre-heating and extra cook time, but it's worth it.

You can use your microwave successfully, just note that the machine tends to cook meals unevenly, leaving hot and cold spots in random places throughout your dish. I have had mouth-burns and just weird reactions in the past. With the microwave it's also hard to guague when something is over-cooked before it's too late.

#4: Be Patient.

Basically, there's no standard rule for all frozen dishes, so you need to go on a case by case basis. We learned a lot in the first week what works best for the meals we specifically made. We also learned that tofu is great in lasagna, but watery in stuffed peppers. I learned that I really should wait past the second rise before freezing pizza dough (a frozen EXPLOSION!).

Be patient with yourself and with the process. It takes time to learn any new technique, and freezing and entire month's worth of dinners is no different from mastering the perfect crepe or something equally difficult. I'm sure I'll discover new tricks along the way -- but it takes time.

#5: Make Something Fresh. 

To keep from getting the blahs with the same meals week after week, I like to make at least some aspect of the meal fresh that night. I know this sounds counter to one of the main reasons I decided to freezer cook this month (saving time + dishes), but even a quick one-bowl corn muffin can really liven up a meal.

We also budgeted to get some sweet potato fries to have on hand on burger nights. The pizzas themselves aren't premade, just the dough, so that meals also seems semi-fresh and we customize with whatever CSA veggies are in the basket that week.

Here's a quick recipe that goes wonderfully with stuffed peppers, chili, and other soups!

loosely based off our Olive Oil Skillet Cornbread recipe

What you'll need . . .
  • 1 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1/3 cup applesauce
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup almond milk
  • 2 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1 cup bread flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • couple pinches salt

Method . . . 
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Generously oil the tins of a standard size muffin pan and set aside. 
  2. Mix together the Greek yogurt, applesauce, oil, almond milk, and maple syrup. 
  3. Then toss in the rest of the ingredients and mix until just combined.
  4. Scoop out evenly in your muffin tin.
  5. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until edges brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  6. Let cool before turning over pan and serving.
If you're just catching up, be sure to check out these posts!

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Last Week's Workouts

>> Tuesday, September 10, 2013

As I write this, Ada is having her very first uninterrupted, normal-wakeup time sleep in the past . . . several weeks. I feel extremely blessed to feel a bit caught up in my own rest and hope this trend continues, for all of us. I am pretty sure our neighbor will be mowing his lawn smack in the middle of her nap today (update: it rained all morning -- so no mowing -- hooray!), so I need to remember how I feel right now when she's inevitably stirred.

Today I wanted to write about my last week in workouts -- I haven't done it in a while. And despite being drained and pulled in a lot of different directions lately, I'd really found my groove between running around the neighborhood, utilizing our gym's childcare, and participating in races.

(Thanks for the photo, Laura!)

M: 30 minute stationary cycle + 5 mile run
T: 3 mile run
W: 1 mile run warmup + 30 minute stationary cycle, kettlebells + 4 mile run
R: Rest
F: 1/2 mile swim, 50 burpees, 3.2 mile run
S: 1 mile swim in 45 minutes
S: 10 mile "race" -- treated as solid long run at 8:10/mile (1:21:31)

= 60 minutes indoor cycling, 26.2 miles running, 1-1/2 miles swimming

*   *   *   *   *

I've been having motivation issues getting in my double digits runs lately, so I was happy to sign up for last weekend's race in our old stomping grounds, Ithaca, NY. I started the first half (a 5-mile loop) out at about 8:30 pace and then decided to run my goal half marathon pace (7:50 -- 1:42 finish versus the aggressive 1:40 I originally set out to meet) the rest of the way. I did this all based on feel, but my overall pace ended up at 8:10, so I think I met my mark.

It was actually sort of emotional for me to run through my old neighborhood -- but that's another story. Add to that the small group of 10-mile runners and I was totally alone most of the way. It was a strange experience because I can usually see at least someone ahead of me or hear someone behind me. I got a feel for what Stephen regularly experiences when he's in the front of the pack (though I was definitely in the middle!). I didn't realize it at the time, but I got 2nd for my new 30-39 age group!

Overall, I am somewhat foolishly hoping all my time on the bike and in the pool will supplement my half marathon training and replace some tempo workouts. With the steamy and hot end of summer and attempting to become a morning runner (which is on hold with recent events!), I have missed a lot of those hard effort workouts. There's really no good excuse, but at least I'm staying active most days of the week.

Oh! And here are some other things I've written related to running lately (btw, I don't get paid per click on these -- so there's no incentive for me to share them here. I'm just loving this new gig with WalkJogRun!)
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Blueberry Applesauce Cakes

>> Monday, September 9, 2013

I whipped up these cute little cakes for my mother-in-law over the weekend as a belated birthday treat. I used some homemade + handpicked blueberry applesauce I had frozen and then thawed -- as well as some Greek yogurt and sprouted flour. Cakes aren't my forte in the kitchen, so I'd love to refine my skills with baking them.

In my formative learning-to-cook years, I was vegan. As a result, I rarely (and I mean r.a.r.e.l.y) bake anything using milk or eggs or butter. I've developed some crafty ways to use flax eggs and to thicken almond milk for a "buttermilk" effect, etc., but now that I'm garden variety vegetarian, I see no reason not to bake more classically from time to time. I think I may have baked one other cake using eggs in my entire life, so I thought it'd be worth a try to see how they might add to the fluff + binding equation.

Definitely worked.

with a beautiful neufchatel cheese frosting

What you'll need . . .
  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup blueberry-applesauce*
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup or honey
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup sprouted flour
  • 1 cup pulsed oats
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup cornmeal
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
* You can use plain store-bought or homemade applesauce (or cinnamon or strawberry or whatever other kind you have). Alternatively, you may also use pumpkin puree, zucchini puree, or any other puree with a similar consistency to applesauce.

Method . . . 
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Generously grease 6 to 8 ramekins (or a mini bundt cake pan or even a 9 x 13 cake pan). Set aside. Depending on what you use to bake the cake, you may have some batter leftover.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the Greek yogurt, applesauce, sugar, maple syrup, and olive oil. Then whisk in the eggs and vanilla. 
  3. In another bowl, sift together the flour, oat flour, and cornmeal. Distribute evenly the baking powder, soda, and salt. Then add these dry ingredients to the wet mixture.
  4. Mix by hand until just combined. Then fill your ramekins about 3/4 full and bake for around 30 minutes. Cake is done when edges brown and a toothpick comes out clean.
  5. Let cool completely before frosting.

// For the frosting + assembly . . .

Combine 8 ounces neufchatel or cream cheese with 1 cup powdered sugar, 2 tablespoons milk or almond milk, and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. Begin beating on low and work up to high speed, adding powdered sugar to taste + texture preference.

Then -- if using ramekins -- slice the cake into three pieces, frost between layers, and top with something pretty. I'm not sure if this marigold is edible (some are, some aren't), so it's just for looks.

Something's just more special about individual cakes, don't you think? And I'm thinking there will be more cakes to come. I really enjoyed baking this one, especially now that I'm not cooking as much. This week related to the vegetarian freezer month of meals, I'll be sharing some of the recipes as well as thawing and cooking tips!

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