Chocolate Cupcakes

Today is Vegan Mania in Chicago and I am so sad that I cannot make it this year. I’ve been the last two years and it is a great event with tons of delicious food and great speakers. But we have so much work to do to get the nursery ready and if I go to Chicago, I need to go to the Land of Nod to get sheets. I don’t have time to go to Vegan Mania and Land of Nod and make it back to Woodstock in time for a 4:00 wedding. So, if we get everything done today, then we’ll go to Chicago tomorrow for a reward. We’ll get sheets, have lunch at Native Foods and get milkshakes at Chicago Diner. Happy Birthday to me! If you are in Chicago today, you better be going to Vegan Mania and eating Temptation soft serve ice cream for me and pre-ordering a coat from Vaute Couture.

Not going to Vegan Mania means that we’ll be able to stop by the Loft BBQ for lunch. So, of course, I made cupcakes for the occasion – chocolate with peanut butter frosting & sprinkles and cookies & cream.

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Butternut Squash & Chickpea Stew

One of my running friends also has twins and recommended joining the local multiples club. The group has play dates, book clubs, and mothers night out events. It also puts on a huge resale and offers meal support for new twin moms. I doubt I’ll take advantage of the latter because I think a vegan meal request would be too overwhelming for most McHenry County residents. But I’m more than glad to share the vegan love with other new moms. So I signed up to bring a butternut squash and chickpea stew with couscous and chocolate cupcakes with peanut butter frosting for dessert. It stood out a bit from the chicken pot pie and meatloaf.

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All wrapped up and ready to go.

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Treeline Soft Cheeses


Crystal Lake Health Food store has started selling Treeline Treenut Cheese. I tried the scallion flavor first.  I spread it over gluten-free crackers. It was good; it would have been even better with a glass of red wine. A lot of vegan cheeses are poor substitutes for the real thing, but nut based cheeses seem to be the exception.

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I used the herb-garlic flavor to make macaroni & cheese


  • 2 1/2 tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 12 oz. Macaroni or other Short Pasta
  • 6 oz. Treeline Cream Cheese
  • 3/4 c. Almond, Coconut, or Soy Milk
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. Pepper

Cook pasta according to package.

Heat olive oil. Add non-dairy milk and stir. Add Treeline Cream Cheese and stir until combined.

Season with salt and pepper and combine with pasta.


It’s not as good as VegNews’ famous mac & cheese, but it’s tasty and it’s quick and easy. We ate it with a Gardein grilled chick’n salad.


Lemons & Blueberries

I have a friend who pins the most amazing looking baked goods on Pinterest. It’s my morning routine: feed the cat, grab a cup of decaf and curl up on the chaise to view Mary’s pins. Usually I just look, but every once and a while one makes it into my “Recipes that need to be veganized” board. One of those was a lemon blueberry yogurt cake.

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Lemon-Blueberry Yogurt Loaf

Veganized from Sweet Pea’s Kitchen

1 1/2 cups + 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour, divided
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup plain coconut yogurt
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons ground flax seed
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest (approximately 2 lemons)
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen, thawed and rinsed

For the Lemon Syrup:
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/3 cup sugar

For the Lemon Glaze:
1 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
2 to 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease bottom and sides of one 9 x 5-inch loaf pans; dust with flour, tapping out excess.

In a large bowl, whisk flax seed with 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon of water. Set aside for 5 minutes.
In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.
In the large bowl, whisk together the flax eggs with the yogurt, sugar, lemon zest, vanilla and oil. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients.

In a separate bowl, mix the blueberries with the remaining tablespoon of flour, and fold them gently into the batter.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake 50 to 55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean. Let cool in the pans for 10 minutes before removing loaf to a wire rack on top of a baking sheet.

While the loaf is cooling, make the lemon syrup in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir together the lemon juice and sugar until the sugar is completely dissolved. Once dissolved, continue to cook for 3 more minutes. Remove from the heat; set aside.
Poke holes in the tops of the warm loaf and brush the top with the lemon syrup. Let the syrup soak into the cake and brush again. Let the cake cool completely.
To make the lemon glaze, in a small bowl, whisk together the confectioners’ sugar and 2-3 tablespoons of the lemon juice. The mixture should be thick but pourable. Add more lemon juice if the mixture is too stiff. Pour the lemon glaze over the top of each loaf and let it drip down the sides. Let the lemon glaze harden, about 15 minutes, before serving. I used less glaze than the recipe called for and it was very good, but the glaze is delicious, so I’m sure using the whole amount would be pure sugar bliss.

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Blueberry lemonade

With the remaining lemon syrup, lemon juice and some frozen blueberries, I made a glass of blueberry lemonade.

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Vegan MoFo 2013 – Twinsies

The Best Pumpkin Muffins from Vegan with a Vengeance.

White chocolate chip & walnut


My very first vegan cook book (bought in 2006); it’s seen better days.


It’s Vegan MoFo 2013! This year it’s in September; I guess to get away from the 200 posts on pumpkin baked goods from previous October and November vegan mofos. So have a pumpkin muffin! The recipe title is accurate. As she was eating a white chocolate pumpkin muffin, my friend described them “the best.”

I haven’t been a very active blogger since I became pregnant. While I may have physically recovered from morning sickness, my motivation in the kitchen never bounced back. I imagine finding time to blog with two infants will be a challenge, so Vegan MoFo came at the right time this year. In honor of the twins, this year’s theme is Twinsies: similar but different foods (like pumpkin muffins done two ways), product reviews of two flavors, getting ready for the babies while eating enough protein for a multiples pregnancy.

White chocolate chip pumpkin muffins

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Walnut pumpkin muffins

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Vegan Adventure California – Part 3

We considered taking the coastal highway back to San Francisco, but ultimately 5 hours in a car was too much for me. Regardless of which way you go, it’s a beautiful drive between Mendocino and San Francisco.

The Coastal Highway –

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Mendocino County –

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I didn’t need the Ravens’ cookie or scone though, because I found a vegan restaurant in Petaluma thanks to my VegOut app. The Sunflower Center is a gluten-free vegan restaurant with a significant number of raw options, but does have a good selection of cooked items (I knew I could get H to go there if it was all raw). H had the shiitake mushroom pizza and I had Lydia’s favorite salad with a side of black beans for protein (adding in what I expected to eat for dinner, I was severely short of my protein requirements on Friday). We shared a mint chocolate volcano for dessert.

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Our road trip buddy


Coming into San Francisco…

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Vegan Adventure Califonia Part 2

After our sugar overdose, we got on the road towards Mendocino. Some road work and congestion around Santa Rosa made it a tad longer than it should have been. It was a lovely drive through forests and rolling fields of vineyards. We checked in to Stanford Inn by the Sea around 6. H started a fire and we split a chocolate chip cookie, because we certainly had not had enough sugar that day.

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Our first meal at Ravens’ restaurant was on ethnic night. H ordered the special Japanese meal and I got a mushroom sandwich. This was my least favorite meal at Ravens’. The teriyaki was good, but nothing special; same with the sushi. My sandwich, both the bread and the mushrooms were a little dry. The best part of the meal was the roasted potatoes. Still in a sugar shock from Cinnaholic, we skipped dessert.

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The next day we woke up fairly early, as we were still adjusting to California time. At 9:30, we headed over to Ravens’ for breakfast. Breakfast is included in the price of the room, including an entree, coffee and juice. The fresh-squeezed orange juice was delicious. Everything on the menu sounded good and I had a hard time deciding what to order. I settled on the Stanford Inn Florentine with tempeh. H ordered the portabella Benedict. The hollandaise sauce on both dishes was phenomenal. Pre-vegan, I never really liked hollandaise, but I could have licked the plate to get the last drop of this sauce. The sweet potato hash was a good complement.

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I went to a gentle yoga class after breakfast. It was me, a newly wed couple who checked into the Stanford Inn because they were unprepared for the chilly weather during their camping honeymoon, and about 15 elderly people. The average age in the room was about 80. This was a very gentle yoga class using a chair for much of it, but it was just what I needed after a 4 1/2 hour flight and a 4 hour car trip.

Continuing the relaxation, H and I went to our scheduled massages at 1:00. It was 90 minutes of pure bliss. Robin, my masseuse, really went at my back, which has been in pain for several weeks. After massages, we walked around the resort to see the water, llamas and gardens.

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At 4:00, we headed over to the main building for tea, another free treat for Inn guests. The dessert of the day was a plum tart, which went well with my fruity cup of hot tea. H took advantage of half-price cocktails with a Bombay martini.

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For Thursday dinner, we split a Caesar salad with grilled tofu. The croutons weren’t that great, but the tofu and dressing were fabulous. H had Xxx entree and I had the ravioli. It was 4 large raviolis, which was not what I expected, but I’m use to the frozen bags of ravioli you can get at whole foods. This was clearly made from scratch and filled with nutty cheese deliciousness. We finished the meal with a banana split and creme brûlée.

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Friday morning I woke up early and drank a cup of coffee on the balcony while reading Vegan Health and Fitness. At 8:00, H and I went to a much more strenuous yoga class. The yoga room at Stanford Inn is a lovely space. There are forest views and from one corner or the room you can see the llamas. I had never done yoga with llamas watching.

Our last meal at Ravens’ did not disappoint. H loved the portabella Benedict so much, he ordered it again. I had the cinnamon swirl French toast. Not knowing what our lunch options would be, I also got a strawberry scone to go with the last in room chocolate chip cookie.

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Vegan Adventure California – Part 1

Not that I would describe the flights H and I have been on as easy but I can only imagine how hard it will be flying with twins. Our last child-free escape was to California for a vegan adventure. After what happened on our last flight from O’Hare (we missed our flight due to a short, but ridiculously slow moving security line and United closing the gate early), we got to the airport two hours before our scheduled departure time. We breezed through a security line three times as long as the June flight only to find out that our flight was delayed. And then delayed again. And again. We got into San Francisco about 2 hours later than planned, picked up our rental car and checked into a nearby hotel after midnight.

After a leisurely morning at the hotel (Aloft sells soy milk!), we headed out to Berkeley for lunch and cinnamon rolls. We ate at Cafe Gratitude, where we split the I am Magical (black bean burger) and Yo so Bueno (black bean tacos). Both dishes were very good.

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For dessert, we walked over to Cinnaholic and had two amazing cinnamon rolls. H ordered the oreo explosion, but they gave him a s’mores instead: frosting, chocolate chips, crushed animal crackers and Dandies marshmallows. I got the chocolate chip cookie dough roll: frosting, chocolate chips and a mound of cookie dough. I probably gave myself gestational diabetes from eating it, but it was one of the best things I’ve eaten in my life.

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Happy Vegan Pizza Day!

It’s vegan pizza day, which I believe is the biggest holiday after Christmas. For this sacred day, I made kale, sweet potato and caramelized onion pizza with a homemade cheese spread and Upton Natural’s bacon and red pepper pizza with Teese.


Kale, Sweet Potato & Caramelized onion pizza

  • 3/4 cup raw brazil nuts, soaked for 1 hour
  • 3/4 cup chickpeas
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 teaspoons miso
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1/2 onion, sliced
  • 2 cups kale, finely chopped
  • 3/4 cup cooked sweet potato, diced
  • pizza dough (I used the recipe from the Vegan Table, which I highly recommend)

For the “cheese,” combine brazil nuts, chickpeas, garlic, miso, olive oil and lemon juice in a food processor until smooth. Add salt and pepper.

For the topping, slowly cook onions in a little olive oil until they are richly browned. With the sweet potatoes, I cheated and used a salad from Expressly Leslie.  So feel free to add your favorite spice to the potatoes.

To assemble: spread “cheese” over pizza dough, cover with kale. Sprinkle sweet potatoes, then onions over the top. Bake according to your dough recipe.


Bacon & Red Pepper Pizza

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Chicago Women’s 5K


The Chicago Women’s Half-Marathon and 5K was last weekend. I ran the Chicago half-marathon last year; it was their first year (previously a 5K and 10K, but 10Ks are becoming increasingly rare these days), and well-organized. The best part was a sleeveless race shirt. Sadly, this year’s race shirt was a drab gray short-sleeve shirt.


I signed up for the 5K in February, because I knew I was pregnant and last year it was a very hot half-marathon. I figured I would just run an easy 5K, but then I found out it was twins and running more than 2 minutes makes my heartrate spike. So I decided to walk the 5K. My goal was to finish the race before the winner of the half-marathon, which had a 20 minute head start. I had a pre-race Builder bar (my usual pre-marathon breakfast) and carried a bottle of ice water. I went to the back of the start corrals and settled into my 15 to 16 minute per mile pace. The first mile was fairly shady and then we turned onto the lakefront path where there was a breeze. It was very different being in the back of the pack. Several people were doing their first 5K and were so happy to be out there. It was a bit discouraging when I got to the 1.5 mile water stop and realized I would have been done by then if I were running. When I got to the 3 mile marker, I decided to run in. Not as fast as I could go, but not a jog either. It was so fun! I miss running. I crossed the finish line in 48:52, 867th place (out of only 991). I made it easy for the twins to get a PR in their next 5K.

Here’s my professional maternity photo shoot at the finish line.