April 18, 2013

Banana Nut Cake with Brown Sugar Almond Frosting


I have to be honest - I had a love affair with this cake. It was short. It was brief, but it was magical. I made the cake on a Friday...and it was gone by Monday. Granted I brought my parents a couple of slices, but the rest was all me. I almost when into a self induced sugar coma, but it was worth it. Now I feel like I need to do some sort of cleanse, but that's another topic entirely.

I came across this recipe when I was going through all of my Grandma's recipes a while back and I just knew I had to re-create it.  I happened to have a bunch of bananas that were way passed their prime (we're talking almost black) so it was perfect timing. This was always one of my favorite desserts growing up...I know I say that often, but my Grandma made some amazing desserts. I hope you guys like this cake as much as my family does!

Cake Ingredients:

  • 2 1/3 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 1/4 cups mashed bananas (about 3 medium bananas)
  • 1 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2/3 cup shortening
  • 2/3 cup non-dairy milk
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup finely chopped walnuts

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.

Measure and sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt in a medium bowl. 

In a large bowl, cream together the mashed bananas, sugar, and shortening. Once well combined, add in the non-dairy milk, applesauce, vinegar, and vanilla. Stir in your dry ingredients and blend together on low speed, scraping the bowl constantly. Once the batter has come together - stir in the chopped walnuts.

Grease a 9"x13" baking pan or two 9" round pans. Pour the batter into the pans. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes in a rectangle pan or 35-40 minutes in the round pans. Cake will be done when a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Allow to cool before frosting.

Brown Sugar Almond Frosting Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1 cup brown sugar - packed
  • 1/4 cup non-dairy milk
  • 2 cups powdered sugar - sifted
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • a big bowl of water to cool the frosting in.

Melt the shortening over low heat. Once it's fully melted, add the brown sugar. Cook and stir for two minutes then stir in the milk. Raise the heat to medium high and bring the mixture to a full boil. Once it's reached a full boil, take off the heat and place the pan in the bowl of cold water. Once the liquid has cooled - add in the 2 cups of powdered sugar and mix with a hand mixer. Mix until it has reached your desired consistency. Stir in the almond extract. Spread onto cooled cake.

April 12, 2013

Italian Grilled Cheese Sandwich


This isn't your Grandma's grilled cheese sandwich - or at least it's not my Grandma's. This was definitely a departure from the grilled cheeses that I used to eat growing up. Mine was usually a couple of slices of Wonder Bread that were buttered and had two slices of American cheese slapped in the middle. Not that there's anything wrong with that (I still make classic grilled cheese sandwiches once and a while - veganized of course), but my taste buds have changed and I wanted to go for something more sophisticated and exciting!

Luckily the people over at Go Veggie! sent me two bags of their new cheese shreds to sample. I've had their Mexican shreds before - I used them to make my Mexican Lasagna a while back. This was my first time using their Mozzarella shreds...I knew the cheese was going to be good, so I had to come up with a few other classic Italian ingredients to pair with it. I wasn't sure if I'd like spinach on a grilled cheese, but let me tell you - this sandwich was amazing. Go Veggie's mozzarella shreds were ooey and gooey - just like cheese should be! They're perfect for all of your favorite Italian dishes! I can't wait to try them my Grandma's Lasagna recipe!

*Makes 1 sandwich*

Ingredients:

  • 2 slices of crusty Italian bread
  • 2 tbsp sun dried tomatoes - coarsely chopped
  • 1 tbsp fresh basil - coarsely chopped
  • 1 handful of baby spinach (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1/3 cup Go Veggie! Mozzarella Shreds
  • pinch of garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

Spread the coarsely chopped sun dried tomatoes on once slice of the bread. Top with the fresh basil, spinach, mozzarella shreds, and garlic powder. Place the other slice of bread on top - then brush the outside of the bread with olive oil.

Place the sandwich in a skillet over medium heat with the oiled slice of bread own. Brush the other slice of bread with olive oil. Grill for 3-4 minutes until the cheese has melted and the bread is golden brown. Serve with Marinara sauce for dunking!

April 2, 2013

Vanilla Cupcakes with Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting


I hope everyone had a great weekend! I spent Easter Sunday with with my family over at my Aunt's new house. She just moved up here from the Milwaukee area on Friday and decided to host an Easter dinner at her house on Sunday! Crazy, right?! That would be too much stress for me after moving, but she did an amazing job and it was so much fun catching up with her and eating some great food.

This Easter was my Mom's first holiday as a vegetarian! She's finally decided to give up meat (again) and I couldn't be more proud of her. She's reading a few books and doing her research, but she knows this is the best decision for her health, the environment, and of course - the animals. She's even on her way to becoming a vegan! So of course I had to make her a delicious dessert to celebrate the occasion. These cupcakes are always a hit whenever I make them, but the frosting was a tasty new addition.

The frosting turned out so well - all thanks to Go Veggie's Vegan Strawberry Cream Cheese. It honestly tasted just like strawberry ice cream! My family loved the frosting so much they were eating it with a spoon! I know I'm going to be making this one again and again. I hope you like it as much as we did!

Cupcake Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup vegan shortening
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened smooth applesauce
  • 1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 cup non-dairy milk

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Cream the shortening and sugar until fluffy. Add the vanilla, applesauce, and vinegar - mix well.

Sift together the flour and baking powder and then mix into the batter in three steps - alternating with the milk.

Scoop the batter into oiled cupcake liners, filling them 3/4 of the way full. Helpful Tip: Use an ice cream scoop to evenly measure the amount of batter you pour into your cupcake liners.

Bake the cupcakes for 18-21 minutes. Check at 15 minutes to maker sure the tops aren't getting too brown! Allow them to cool before decorating.


Frosting Ingredients:

Cream together the cream cheese and shortening in a medium bowl until well combined.

Sift in the powdered sugar and the beat on high until well incorporated. Pipe frosting on to cupcakes. Garnish with chocolate shavings. Refrigerate any leftover frosting.