December 30, 2012

German Chocolate Cake Rolls


I'm so glad the holidays are over. Don't get me wrong...I love Thanksgiving and Christmas, but they just seem to get more and more stressful as the years go on. I'm just ready to get some semblance of normalcy and routine back into my life! That being said - I hope everyone had an amazing holiday with their friends and family. I got to spend the morning with Keeva, my Mom, Dad, my sister Kayla, her friend Jay, and my parent's two dogs Sampson and Nana. Then we all went to my Grandparents house to spend Christmas evening with them! I have a huge family - so it was loud and crazy, but I wouldn't want it any other way!

Keeva enjoying one of her presents she got for Christmas!

I've had the idea of making German chocolate cake rolls floating around in my head for a couple of months, but with the holidays going on the past couple of months I've put the idea on the back burner. I spent my time making enough Christmas cookies to feed an army - so anything not holiday related had to wait. I made these yesterday morning and let me tell you - they're so decadently rich. You're going to love them...I know I did. I had 4 of them in 20 minutes.

*Makes 10-12 rolls*

Dough Ingredients:
  • 3/4 cup non-dairy milk
  • 1/4 cup light oil
  • 1/4 cup applesauce
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp yeast

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large bowl mix together the milk, oil, applesauce, lemon juice, and vanilla extract. In a separate bowl - sift together the flour, cocoa powder, salt, sugar, and yeast. Combine with the wet ingredients and mix together until well incorporated. Roll the dough out onto a floured surface and knead for 5-10 minutes. Once you're done kneading the dough - place the dough in a greased bowl, cover with a towel, place the bowl in a warm location, and allow to rise for 2 hours.
While the dough is rising, mix together the filling ingredients.

Filling Ingredients:
  • 3/4 cup shortening
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup coconut flakes (shredded coconut works too!)

Mix together all of the filling ingredients in a small bowl. Set aside until it's time to spread onto the dough.

When the dough has about doubled in size - roll back out onto a lightly floured surface. Punch the dough down and then roll out into a 12x16 rectangle. Take the filling ingredients and spread evenly onto the rectangular dough. Roll up the rectangle tightly to form a log. Cut the log into one inch pieces and place in an oiled baking dish.

Let the unbaked rolls sit in a warm place while covered with a towel until they doubled in size again. Bake in the 350 degree F oven for 20-22 minutes.

While the rolls are baking, you can mix together the icing.

Icing Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 3-4 tbsp non-dairy milk (add enough to reach your desired consistency) 
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla

Sift the powdered sugar and then whisk in the non-dairy milk and vanilla. Once the rolls are done, allow them to cool slightly. Pour the icing over the rolls and serve slightly warm.

December 21, 2012

Peppermint Candy Cane Sugar Cookies


I can't believe it's almost Christmas already! I'm not even close to being done with my shopping yet. It sure does creep up on you doesn't it? The one thing I haven't been slacking on is Christmas baking this year. This recipe is based on a sugar cookie recipe that has been in my family for years. These were always on the table at my Great-Grandmother and Grandmother's houses for Christmas. Also - I'm pretty sure this was the recipe we used for the cookies we left Santa Claus on Christmas Eve...minus the peppermint and candy cane shape.

I've been wanting to make these cookies for a few years now. I tried making a version of these the first year when I became vegan. I was at my Aunt and Uncle's house baking cookies and somehow they came out tasting like play dough. I must have added too much salt.

Luckily my baking skills have improved slightly. These cookies are deliciously soft and chewy with that classic peppermint candy cane taste! The only thing that I was a little disappointed about was the all natural red food coloring. It came out purple instead of red. Oh well - there still kind of adorable, right?

Ingredients:

  • 2/3 cup vegan shortening
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp peppermint extract
  • 1/4 cup applesauce
  • 4 tsp non-dairy milk
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • red food coloring

Thoroughly cream the shortening, white sugar, brown sugar, vanilla, and peppermint extracts. Add in the applesauce and beat until light and fluffy. Stir in the non-dairy milk.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Blend in with the creamed mixture. Separate the dough into two equal portions. Add your desired amount of red food coloring to one half of the dough and mix until the color is well incorporated.

Chill the dough for 1 hour. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. After the dough has been chilled, take a small piece of dough and roll out on a floured surface into 4-5 inch rope. Do the same for both the white and red dough. Press one piece of each color together and gently twist together to form a spiral. Shape the dough into a candy cane shape and place on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Repeat until all of the dough is used.

Bake at 375 degrees F for 6-8 minutes until the edges become golden brown.

December 19, 2012

Caramel Apple Pie


There's nothing like a piece of classic apple pie....that is unless you're pouring caramel on top. Then it's just that much better. I was digging through my Grandma's recipes a few months ago and stumbled upon one that read "Grandma Josie's Pie Crust". In the past I've attempted making pie crust and it's never really turned out that well. I always end up not having enough dough or I end up not rolling the dough out thin enough. Pie crust has always been a problem for me. Until I took a shot with this recipe!

I'm not exactly sure who Grandma Josie is. I asked my Grandma who she was and from what it sounds like - she's not even related to us, but thank you Josie for this recipe. The crust turned out deliciously buttery and flaky! I even had enough for a bottom crust and top crust (how novel is that?) I'm not quite sure what the vinegar does, but I wanted to follow the recipe exactly. I know I'm going to be using this one for years to come. I can't wait to try this with vegan chicken pot pie!

This pie is topped with my super easy Microwave Caramel Sauce.

Crust Ingredients:

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup vegetable shortening
  • 1/4 cup applesauce
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 5 tablespoons cold water

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

The key to a flaky pie crust is to use cold ingredients. Therefore - always keep all of the ingredients refrigerated before hand. 

Blend the flour and vegetable shortening in your food processor or with a pastry cutter until the mixture is mealy and the shortening is pea sized. Mix in the applesauce, salt, and vinegar and pulse your food processor a few times.

Add in the cold water 1 tablespoon at a time - pulsing after each tablespoon. Once the dough forms into a ball and when you pinch the dough and it sticks together - it's done. Pour out onto your counter and separate into two balls. Cover each ball of dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

After the dough has refrigerated for a bit, roll out your pie crust on a floured surface. Place the bottom crust into your pie pan and cut off any excess crust off the edges. For the top layer - you can put a full crust with a few holes on top - or do like I did and create a lattice crust! For a great tutorial on how to create a lattice crust watch this video here!

Pie Filling Ingredients:

  • 6 cups thinly sliced apples
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp corn starch
  • 3/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Toss the sliced apples with the rest of the ingredients until well coated. Pour into prepared pie crust then top with your top layer of pie crust.

Bake in a 425 degree F oven for 35-40  minutes until the apples are tender and the crust is golden brown. Allow to cool before serving.

December 17, 2012

Easy Microwave Caramel Sauce


This caramel sauce is so amazing. I seriously drank it out of the jar. Well - I would say I "sipped" it out of the jar. Just don't tell anybody... I didn't really know how much I was missing caramel until I had a little taste of this sauce. It tastes just like I remember from my "pre-gan" days. I used to love drizzling caramel over my ice cream when I was a kid! This vegan version tastes just like the stuff I used to know!

If you follow me on Facebook - hopefully you saw my post about this recipe. I said that this sauce is a little dangerous since it's so easy to make - and it is! All you do is mix all of the ingredients together and pop it in the microwave! How simple is that?!

The sweet and smoky flavor of this caramel sauce goes perfectly with apples, over ice cream, or on top of a 3-Minute Microwave Brownie. I made a yummy apple pie served with this caramel sauce on top and it turned out so well! I'll share the recipe for that with all of you very soon!

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup vegetable shortening
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup non-dairy milk
  • pinch of salt

Mix all of the ingredients in a medium sized microwave safe bowl. Whisk together until all ingredients are well combined.

Microwave on HIGH for 6 minutes - stirring every 2 minutes. If the sugar hasn't melted into the sauce after 6 minutes, microwave in 1 minute increments until it has dissolved.

Refrigerate for about 2 hours to allow the caramel to thicken before serving. Store in the refrigerator in a covered container.

December 13, 2012

Nate's Meatballs Review


The people over at Nate's were generous enough to send me a few bags of their delicious meatballs to sample! It's been so long since I've had meatballs I had forgotten how delicious they were! They have three varieties of meat balls to choose from: Classic, Zesty Italian, and Savory Mushroom.

I tried the Classic meatballs first over spaghetti noodles with tomato sauce, but they would be amazing with barbecue sauce or in a Swedish meatball recipe! It's so easy to prepare them too! They can be cooked in the microwave, simmered in sauce, or sauteed on top of the stove. I chose the later and they came out having a crispy crust and a delicious juicy center. Any non-vegan would be easily impressed with these guys!

The Zesty Italian ones were my absolute favorite! I had them between two slices of crusty baguette and topped with marinara sauce and Daiya mozzarella. It was amazingly delicious! These would be really great for your family's spaghetti night as well!

The Savory Mushroom meatballs had a slightly more earthly flavor than the other two, but paired deliciously with my Grandma's gravy (veganized of course). You could also pair this with a sweet tomato sauce for a delicious dinner!

These meatballs are much healthier than their meaty counterparts. Not only are they cholesterol free, but they're all under 100 calories and have almost 10 grams of protein per serving! If you're looking to impress your meat eating family and friends - try creating a dish with Nate's Meatless Meatballs!

December 10, 2012

Chocolate Peppermint Sandwich Cookies


The snow is falling outside and Nat King Cole is singing "The Christmas Song" on my iPod. It's officially Christmas time in Minnesota! I love Christmas so much - everything is so bright and festive! I wouldn't call myself a very religious person, but it's such a wonderful time of the year to spend with my family and friends and to be thankful for all of the amazing people (dogs included!) that I have in my life. Oh...and presents. I love presents.


Isn't that a cute picture of my Grandma and me? Now you can see where I get my red hair! I always had the best Christmases growing up. My brother, sister, and I would all get up really early in the morning (most of the time it was before the sun was even up) and we would go check to see what Santa had put in our stockings. That would keep us entertained for a little while, but we would eventually have to go wake up our parents to open all of the presents under the tree. Then every year we make our way to my Grandma and Grandpa's house on Christmas night for family and food...and of course more presents.

If you're looking for an impressive, but super simple cookie recipe to serve your friends and family this holiday season - you must try these chocolate peppermint sandwich cookies! One of my all time favorite flavor combinations is chocolate and peppermint and these cookies do not disappoint. I think I'll throw some chocolate chips into the batter next time. You can never have too much chocolate.

Cookie Ingredients:

  • 1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 3/4 cup vegan shortening
  • 1/4 c applesauce

In a medium bowl, whisk or sift together the flour, cocoa, and salt.

In a separate large bowl, beat together the sugar, shortening, and applesauce with an electric mixer until well combined and fluffy. Add in the dry ingredients and blend until the dough has formed. Refrigerate the dough covered with plastic wrap for one hour.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease two baking sheets with cooking spay. Scoop out the dough by the tablespoon full and then roll into little balls. Place the balls onto the greased cookie sheets about two inches apart from one-another. Using your hands (or the bottom of a glass), press down firmly on the balls to flatten. Bake the cookies for 10-11 minutes (the edges will crack). Allow to cool before frosting.

Frosting Ingredients:
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 3/4 cup vegan shortening
  • 3/4 tsp peppermint extract
  • Red and Green sprinkles 

Beat together the powdered sugar and shortening with an electric mixture until well blended. Add in the peppermint extract and beat again. Once the cookies have cooled, spread 2-3 teaspoons of frosting onto the back side of one cookie. Top with another cookie (flat side down) and press gently to make them stick together! Repeat until all of your cookies have been frosted.

Sprinkle red and green sprinkles all around the edges of cookies until your desired amount is reached.

December 6, 2012

Punk Rawk Labs Nut Milk Cheese Review


First of all, let me say that I am so completely obsessed with this cheese. I'm so glad that the nice people over at Punk Rawk labs sent me over a couple of samples of their raw nut milk cheeses to try.  The two flavors I was able to taste were the Plain Cashew and the Smoked Cashew/Mac cheeses.


How cute is this packaging? It's like opening a little present! A delicious, creamy, cheesy present. Anyway - if you're a fan of soft cheeses you must try these nut cheeses from Punk Rawk Labs! The Plain Cashew is smooth and mild with an almost earthy flavor while the smoked cashew/mac had bit of a tangier taste, but was still amazingly rich and creamy.

Their nut milk cheeses are all handmade using organic, dairy free, raw, vegan ingredients right here in Minneapolis, Minnesota. They offer three different varieties of cheeses.

Cashew: This cheese has the earthiest flavor and a soft spreadable texture (almost like brie). It's excellent for budget conscious shoppers.

Cashew/Macadamia: This is a blended cheese combining the value of cashews with the gourmet flavor of macadamia nuts.

Macadamia: This cheese has the most solid texture of the three. It is lighter, fluffier, and has a more refined flavor than the cashew cheeses. Almost like ricotta, but can be cut into wedges. This is their premier cheese!

Recently Punk Rawk Labs was chosen by VegNews Magazine as the "Editor's Pick" in a taste test with Daiya and Dr. Cow's vegan cheeses. I can't wait to serve these new cheeses to my friends and family! They'll be totally surprised that they're eating vegan cheese. It's that good!

You can purchase Punk Raw Lab Raw Vegan Cheese over at Vegan Essentials!