Friday, August 24, 2012

Five Minutes till Vegan Love Fest!

     It is now day 7 of my son's Week Without Milk.  He's been having some tummy issues and I suspect milk for many reasons I won't bore you with.  On Sunday our family went to a birthday party and of course, cake was right out.  He was so disappointed that I promised him a cupcake on Friday.  It has been his one hold out thought in a week devoid of pizza, macaroni and cheese, and grilled cheese sandwiches (his absolute favorite thing in the whole wide world).   Poor kid.  And I have been eschewing milky things too so he doesn't feel like the only one.  Poor me.

     The quickest cake in the entire world to make is the microwave 5 minute cake in a cup.  The problem with those cakes is that they taste almost, but not quite, entirely unlike chocolate cake, to paraphrase Douglas Adams.  I figured that the problem was probably the egg, but I didn't know how to remedy the situation.  Then I found this vegan recipe over at Super Cool Food Blog and that was the answer!  It's fantastic!  I modified it a bit to fit what I had in my house and because I promised Boy 1 a cupcake, I "baked" them in cupcake wrappers set inside ramekins.  The instructions below are for one mug cake, followed by directions for two cupcakes.

Five Minute (Vegan) Chocolate Mug Cake
Makes one serving

4 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 Tablespoons sucanat
2 Tablespoons cocoa powder 
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 Tablespoons water
2 Tablespoons coconut oil
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1) Add coconut oil and water to a small dish and microwave for about one minute or until coconut oil is melted.
2) In a large mug, mix flour, sugar, cocoa powder, and baking powder with a fork until well-mixed.
3) Add the coconut oil mixture, vinegar, and vanilla and stir until incorporated.
4) Microwave on High for about 1.5 minutes. Check cake; if it appears too wet, microwave for additional 30 second increments. Depending on the strength of your microwave, cake will likely be done (but a little gooey) around the 2 minute mark.

For Cupcakes:

For step 2 and 3, mix ingredients in a bowl instead of a mug.  Put one liner in each of two ramekins and divide the batter between them.  Microwave for about a minute and check them.  My tester came out clean at 1 minute, but they were still a little jiggly, so I nuked em' again for another 30 seconds and called them done.

If you want to frost them, stick them in the fridge for about 5 minutes.  I just mixed up a bunch of stuff for these.  Mostly butter and cream.  That aught to be quite the test for his system!


     I don't really suggest chocolate frosting for these, it's a little too much, but it's what my son wanted.  I think a nice vanilla may be a better way to go.


Come to me, my love... Where have you been all my week?



Just Kidding!
(You had me there for a minute, boy...)

Friday, August 17, 2012

Lazy Days...

OK, so I didn't post last week.  I got locked out of my e-mail account and it took 4 solid days of waiting and phoning to get back in which didn't leave much time for online awesomeness.  Oh, and, minor detail, I was also diagnosed with pneumonia.

Needless to say, I wasn't in the mood for much last week.  But before all the muck hit the fan, I had made it to the farmer's market and picked up some eggplant.  I've been wanting to make this for you guys since last year!  You know how I love moussaka, but it takes soooo long to make.  Last year I invented Lazy Mama's Moussaka but it was with the last of the eggplant of the season, so I had to wait to share with you guys!

The first time I made this, I asked my youngest to tell his Dad dinner was ready.  He said, "What is it?"  I said, "Lazy Mama's Moussaka."  He ran downstairs excitedly and said, "Dad!  We're having LADIES SUPASTA!!"  I don't know what he thought "ladies supasta" was, but he loved Lazy Mama's Moussaka!

At any rate, Lazy Mama's Moussaka was perfect for my energy level/attitude last week.  This method uses the same ingredients as my regular moussaka, but you skip the salting the eggplant step (totally unnecessary), and the sautéing the veggies step.  The resulting dinner has far less fat, but is every bit as flavorful as the original.

Lazy Mama's Moussaka

1 eggplant, thinly sliced
1 T olive oil
1 large zucchini, thinly sliced
2 potatoes, thinly sliced
1 onion, sliced
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 T white vinegar
1 (14.5 ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes, chopped
7 oz cooked lentils, drained, juice reserved
1 t dried oregano
2 T chopped fresh parsley
1 C crumbled feta
1 1/2 T butter
2 T flour
1 1/4 C milk
black pepper to taste
1 egg
1/4 C Parmesan cheese
Salt and Pepper

  1. If you don't have lentils in the fridge, go ahead and cook some lentils.  You can used canned in a pinch if you have some.
  2. Preheat oven to 375° F (190° C).
  3. Sauté onion and garlic until lightly browned. Pour in vinegar and reduce. Stir in tomatoes, lentils, 1/2 the juice from lentils, oregano and parsley. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer 15 minutes.
  4. In a 9x13 inch casserole dish layer eggplant, zucchini, potatoes, onions and feta, sprinkle with a little salt. Pour tomato mixture over vegetables; repeat layering, finishing with a layer of vegetables, sprinkled with salt.
  5. Cover and bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan combine butter, flour and milk. Bring to a slow boil, whisking constantly until thick and smooth. Season with pepper. Remove from heat, cool for 5 minutes, and stir in beaten egg.
  7. Pour sauce over vegetables and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Bake, uncovered, for another 25 to 30 minutes. 
  • This particular moussaka was made with yellow squash as they were out of zucchini at the store.  There was virtually no difference.
  • If you wanted to get really lazy about it, you could substitute all the ingredients in step 3 with jarred tomato sauce.
  • I used my handy dandy mandoline slicer to slice the squash, eggplant, and potato.  Huge time savings!
  • Though this takes less time than the other recipe, it still does take a fair amount of time in the kitchen.  I do think I shaved off at least an hour of prep time!

My eldest son had an irrational fear of eggplant.  It's borderline phobic, really.  He loves this.  'Nuf said.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Summer Party Run Down...

Ok so, like, last time I was all, "I bought Angry Bird band-aids because I'm awesome," well this time I'm all, "I didn't need to use any band-aids because this time we sent a kid to the hospital."  Yeah.  We don't do anything half way around here.  Poor kid scraped her toe riding one of my kid's bikes and no amount of Neosporin and Angry Birds was going to do it.  Fortunately, she got all patched up and was able to come back to the party.  Lookit what we had!


Puka Dogs (pure beef, and vegetarian hot dogs) slathered in aioli and mango chutney, on either Hawaiian Sweet Bread buns or gluten-free/grain-free buns.

Macaroni salad

Cucumber salad

Hawaiian Maui Chips

Fresh papaya, mango, and pineapple fruit bowl


Haupia (coconut pudding)

Okinawan Sweet Potato pie with macadamia nut whipped "cream"

Gluten-Free Vegan brownies

Chocolate Cupcakes baked in ice cream cones

Tropical Juice

Spa Water

 For playtime (besides the bicycles of doom) we had bubbles,


more bubbles, 

  And marshmallow cannons!  A paper cup with the bottom cut out + a balloon tied, with the top cut off = one heck of a marshmallow shooter!  They actually come out pretty hard, so make sure not to shoot them at anybody or, as my son is demonstrating, yourself.

Now, back to the food!

 So my whole idea for this party was that everyone in the world needs to eat a Puka Dog.  Puka means "hole" in Hawaiian and somebody on Kauai invented the most delicious hot dog on the planet.  It involves poking a hole into some Hawaiian sweet bread, filling it with aioli, and mango chutney and shoving a hot dog in there.  I blogged about it last year but nobody really jumped on the wagon.  So I decided that if the interwebs aren't going to go nuts, at least all my friends should!

 The whole menu came from the idea for the dogs.  Not a formal luau, more of a backyard get together Hawaiian style.

Pineapple, mango, papaya and some limes for them 'cuz I'm all addicted now and stuff...

I found a new Hawaiian Sweet Bread recipe that makes quite a bit.  It is wonderful. 
You can see some of the labels I made.  Almost everyone we invited had a different food issue.  We had gluten free people, people who can't do grains, soy free people, some who are off dairy, and then of course, boring ol' vegetarians.  It was nuts.   This label says: "Hawaiian Sweetbread Buns: Contains gluten, eggs, and dairy, soy free.  Soon to contain 1 hot dog."

 The label for this cucumber salad said: "Grain free, soy free, gluten free, dairy free.  I swear if somebody's allergic to cucumbers I'm gunna hack something."  Fortunately, there was no hacking...

This recipe is pretty simple.  You can edit ratios based on your taste and the number of servings you need:
Cucumber Salad
3 Cucumbers, peeled, seeded and sliced to about 1/4 inch
1 Red onion, peeled and thinly sliced
2 Tbs Rice or cider vinegar
2 Tbs Olive oil
2 Tbs Dill
Salt and Pepper

Combine cucumber and onion in large bowl.  Whisk to combine vinegar, olive oil, dill, salt and pepper and pour dressing over cucumbers.  I made this up a few hours before the party and everything was still crispy, the next morning the colors had run in the onions and the cucumbers were softening, so I'd say make between 1 and 4 hours before serving, but not much longer than that.

Hawaiian style macaroni salad.  Apparently, the biggest secret is Best Foods mayo (aka Hellman's on the East coast)  I hate Best Foods like beyond, but this was pretty good salad.  This is another of those "non recipe" recipes:

Hawaiian Style Macaroni Salad
1 lb macaroni
4-5 carrots, peeled and shredded
1/2 medium onion, grated
2 C Best Foods mayo
Salt and Pepper
Cook the macaroni and drain it.  One website I found said macaroni is usually cooked pretty soft for this recipe.  When the macaroni cools, mix in the rest of the ingredients and refrigerate over night.  A couple of the recipes I referenced specifically said "NO RELISH!"  So there you go.  Easy peasy.

Gluten-Free, Grain-Free hot dog buns, another really easy recipe.  I found it on a blog called Nichole's Special Diet Creations.  Nothing in these except almond flour, yogurt, eggs, coconut oil, salt, and baking soda.  The hardest part of this recipe is bringing the eggs up to room temperature.  They're pretty tasty, too! 

These guys know what's good...  These were chocolate cupcakes baked in ice cream cones, topped with lime buttercream frosting.  There are lots of ways to get your ice cream cones to stand up in the oven, but I bought this nifty rack, which is a great way to serve them, too.  I just used my favorite chocolate cupcake recipe and fiddled around with the frosting until it tasted OK.
Here it is:

Lime Buttercream Frosting
1 stick butter, softened
4 Cups confectioner's sugar
Juice of 3 key limes
Drop, whole milk

Combine the butter and confectioner's sugar with a mixer until it resembles crumbs, add lime juice and mix again, add milk a few drops at a time until frosting comes together.  If you add too much, add a little more confectioner's sugar.  Seriously good stuff, though it gave my husband a sugar rush before he got finished with half his cone!

This is haupia.  Lemme just say something here, hominahominahomina, OK?  This stuff is fantastic.  I have had it before at luaus and it's kinda bland and rubbery.  This recipe is pure coconut happiness.  It's softer than I was expecting and I nearly ate the whole pan before it even cooled off.  I love warm pudding. mmmm... warm pudding.... glurgle...  This recipe comes from John Fischer on

2 cups coconut milk 
1 cup whole milk
6 tablespoons sugar
5 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 tsp vanilla (optional)

Pour one cup of coconut milk into a saucepan. Combine sugar and cornstarch stirring into coconut milk. (Add vanilla if desired.  I added it.) Heat over low stirring consistently until thickened.  Add remainder of coconut milk and whole milk and continue to heat until thickened. Pour into 8 inch square pan and chill until firm. 

You may remember that we ate purple sweet potato pie on our last trip to HI.  This, my friends is purple sweet potato pie.  Purple sweet potatoes are sometimes called Okinawan sweet potatoes or purple yams.  I found these at a local Asian market.  The produce manager was quick to point out that he stocked only the gnarled "ugly" ones from Hawai'i and not the larger ones grown in CA, which he apparently viewed with no small amount of derision.  I don't know about the California ones, but these Hawaiian ones are awesome.  And yeah, that whipped cream?  That's vegan macadamia nut whipped "cream", because Cara Reed is also awesome...  And also, squeeze a little lime juice over it?  More awesome, though probably not authentic...

I found the pie filling recipe here.  Quick note: I didn't realize when I made this recipe it makes enough for 3 pies or around 2 deep dish pies.  So I've got another pie's worth of filling in my fridge right now.  I'm not complanin'.  I'm just sayin'.

Okinawan Sweet Potato Pie
Yield: 3 pies 

5 cups mashed potatoes
4 eggs
2 cups sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
1 cup softened butter
2 cans evaporated milk
3 unbaked pie crusts

Boil sweet potatoes until soft, peel and mash until no lumps.  Add remainder of ingredients, beat with beater until creamy. Pour into pie shell.  Cover edge of crust with foil strips making sure not to touch the filling.  Bake at 425° for 15 minutes; then, bake at 250° for 40-50 minutes.  Test the doneness by sticking in a toothpick.

Vegan, Gluten-free Brownies from my buddy Chinmayie over at Love Food Eat.  I have made these twice and they are fantastic!  They are especially good pared with the whipped "cream", too!

Of all the things I made for this party, the recipe that drove me the craziest was homemade POG.  POG is a Hawaiian drink that we can actually buy in the grocery stores here but it is chock full of high fructose corn syrup and other nasties.  POG stands for Passionfruit, Orange, and Guava.  Apparently it also stands for "extraordinarily hard to make from scratch if you live in the Pacific Northwest..."  This is how I wanted to make it:

pure passionfruit juice
freshly squeezed orange juice
pure guava juice  

Stir it up. Be complimented.

So apparently neither passionfruit nor guava is in season now so freshly squeezed was right out.  Then, I tried looking for boxed juices.  On the Thursday before the party I found the Ceres brand boxed juices which carry both passionfruit and guava with no preservatives or sugars but I couldn't find it in any local stores and I couldn't get it delivered in time.  Then I decided to try concentrates.  All of the passionfruit juice had some other juice added to it and all of the guava had high fructose corn syrup.  The straw that broke the camel's back though, was when I asked my husband to stop by a local store to pick up some fresh squeezed orange juice.  And the store.  Was closed.  For renovations.  I took this as a sign.  Only Hawaiians should make POG.  Unless you have a month of prep time.  And I didn't.  I threw my hands up in the air and mixed up a bunch of stuff I found.  (It's darn hard to mix juice with your hands in the air, btw...)

Not POG Tropical Juice
1/2 container Hawaii's Own concentrated guava nectar
1/4 container concentrated pineapple juice
1/4 jug Earthwise Passionfruit Aloe juice
juice 1/2 large orange
lemon slices
lime slices

Mix juices with enough water to dissolve and float lemon and lime slices on top.  Let sit for about an hour if you have the time.  This was a huge hit with the kids, but I'm a little disappointed that I couldn't do what I wanted originally...

 After we finished eating, my son decided to give a speech.  (He made the podium all by himself.)  Mostly it went, "Thank you all for coming.  I hope you have a great time!"

I think people did...

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