Browsing Tag


On Turning 25 + Vegan Carrot Pistachio Cake

September 6, 2014


[Photo of me on the last day of me being 24 years old - AKA earlier this week]

I’m currently on vacation in the most luxurious cabin on a small lake in Wisconsin. It’s Wyatt’s aunt and uncle’s cabin and can house anywhere between 12-15 people so we are feeling like we’re living in a mansion here by ourselves. It’s been a blast with a mix of hiking in the sunshine and reflecting / reading during the rain. With my 25th birthday being this week, I’ve been thinking an awful lot lately about what getting older means to me and if I’m still as terrified of it as I was at 22. Yes, I’m horrified by the thought of having to go to the doctor every few months to keep my body from falling apart and of losing my incredible metabolism but, at the same time, I’m also excited about continuing to mature and figure out this crazy thing we call living.

I spent the long 8 hour car ride up here reflecting on how my life has changed since I first stepped into my 20s five years ago and would like to share some of the things I’ve learned along the way with you:

1. You are who you surround yourself with. This one was something that became so clear to me when I dropped my druggie high school friends for highly creative and motivational college buddies. Spending a Saturday night hosting a potluck and playing board games was so much more rewarding than playing video games and getting drunk in friends’ basements. I learned that there are people out there that do get as excited as me about trying a new vegetable and not just about their newest weed blend. Going from living with people who spend every night hosting “ragers” to living with my highly motivated musician boyfriend was also an eye opener. He spends every extra waking moment working on music which only motivated me to work on my passions as I see him dedicate his entire self to what he loves and wants to become.

2. You don’t have to like everyone. This one was hard for me – it felt like if I was going to be around someone then I really wanted to be their friend. I’ve come to realize that putting a lot of energy into trying to force a friendship is a lot of wasted time and it’s okay to find someone completely talented and work with them on a professional level without feeling the needs to go get drinks with them afterwards or on the weekends.

3. It’s not about where you are but what you do while being there. I was, like every young ‘adult’ getting ready to graduate from college, obsessed with moving to the coast. I was sure that I was meant to move to Portland or San Francisco after I received my degree and never come back to Indiana. However, when the time came to move – my mother talked me into visiting these places for a few days first to make sure I wasn’t making a mistake. She, like all parents, was nervous about me moving to a new place without a job (market) when I had already been offered a full time job in Indiana. When I actually flew out there, I realized that San Fran was much too large for me and Portland…well Portland was amazing (ha). Despite Portland being an amazing place to visit, I spent a few days with Wyatt’s inviting friends which showed us a blast of a time by taking us to some great dive bars and brunch spots. I was totally in love with Portland but was a little bit taken aback by the idea of me in Portland. Wyatt’s friends had been living there for a few years now but were working as servers and in resteraunts. Back in Indiana, we had a full fledge career already starting in the industry (music industry) of our dreams. We decided to stay in Bloomington for a year to test it out and have been here since for 3 years. I’ve watched many of my friends lose interest in their passions as they are gobbled up by large city activities and I feel lucky knowing that I’m able to put hours into VV and Driftless since I don’t have a 2 hour commute a day or rent that costs 3/4 of my salary.

4. Naive can be good. It sounds silly but I’m so greatful that I dived head first into some big adventures without realizing what they would entail. For example, if I had any idea the learning curve and constant work that went into making a magazine then Driftless would have most likely never released an issue. The truth can be daunting so just going for that big dream and you’ll figure out the rest along the way.

5. You make your own opportunities. I often time have trouble sitting still and watching TV when I know I could be working on a blog post that may be the post that gets me noticed by that oh-so-famous blogger. Or I could be shooting a new article to be featured in a print issue of one of my favorite independent magazines. It took several years for VV to get off the ground but persistence with constantly photographing and recipe developing puts me one step closer to my dreams everyday. Little victories like being interviewed for Food & Wine, being nominated by Saveur Magazine, and getting motivational emails from some of my favorite bloggers are all just the small victories that help push me towards growing this little place and I know that these little victories didn’t happen because of luck – I worked my ass off for them! This also means that hopefully more opportunities will come as I only continue to develop my skills more.

These are a handful of big picture maturaties that I’ve had to discover for myself over the last few years. Although I’ve grown immensely since turning 20, I am pretty excited to see what else I learn over the last 5 years of my twenties. I’m sure life has some pretty insightful things planned for the next 5 years but I’d really love to work on growing the following:

1. Learn to lose control. I really struggle with needing to be in control (of my daily routine, my blog, my body, my attitude) at all times and get really upset when things are out of my control (even little things like the weather not going as I hoped really bums me out).

2. Learn balance. Right now I am ALL in. I go from work to magazine to blog to bed. It’s great and I stay constantly engaged but it sure would be great for me to be able to…you know…watch some TV or something without my mind wondering to my next to-do list.

Now, as I mentioned, it’s my birthday (week) so let’s eat cake!!


Vegan Carrot Pistachio Cake

adapted from Love & Lemons

  • 2 cups grated carrots
  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 1 cup non-dairy plain yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (or seeds from 1 vanilla bean)
  • 1 cup cane sugar
  • 1/2  cup coconut oil, melted


For the cream cheese frosting:

  • 8 ounces vegan cream cheese
  • 8 ounces earth balance (or regular butter if you aren’t looking to make vegan)
  • 5 cups powdered sugar
  • ~1 Tablespoon non-dairy milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla (or seeds from a a vanilla bean)


  • 1/2 cup shopped pistachios


Preheat oven to 325 degrees and spray or line two 8 inch round cake pans. Combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, spices, and salt in one bowl. Whisk together the yogurt, sugar, apple sauce, vanilla, and coconut oil in another. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour the wet ingredients into it. Fold the dry ingredients into the wet ones until everything is combined and then fold in the grated carrots. Divide the dough between your two prepared pans and stick in the oven for 30 minutes (or until a toothpick is inserted into the center and comes out clean).

Remove from oven and let cool completely.

To make the frosting: Beat all the ingredients together until light and fluffy. Add more milk if it ends up stiff. Divide the frosting into 3 parts and use 1 as the center layer, one on the sides, and the remaining part for the top. Top with crusted pistachios and enjoy!


*A few notes:

- I made this cake vegan because it was my birthday and it was what I wanted. Feel free to swap out the non-dairy items with organic dairy items if you’d prefer to.

- Also, feel free to add in an extra 1/2 cup shopped pistachios into the batter (throw them in the same time you put in the grated carrots) if you’d like the added texture in your cake. I stuck with keeping mine on the outside but that is just my personal preference.



Currently Lusting: Pink Patisserie

January 9, 2014

Currently Lusting is a bi-weekly series which features blogs that VV finds particularly inspiring / creative / beautiful or probably all three. Although we’d like to pretend that all ideas spring from these wonderful brains of ours, that is just simply not the truth. We pull so much inspiration and ideas from other blogs that I think it’s really important to acknowledge these people and the hard work they put into their virtual spaces. Want to create a truly gorgeous blog? One of the biggest steps is having an inspiring set of other blogs that constantly makes you want to make yours better.




Pink Patisserie is one of those blogs that I’ll have pinned 4 of her photos and be struck by how delicious a recipe looks before even realizing where it came from. Then I’ll be going through my blogfeed later on, see those photo and be like ‘ah ha! Of course this was the work of Maria!’. This has happened at least a half a dozen times. I can usually pin point a photo from most of my favorite blogs because they stick to a similar aesthetic… but not Pink Patisserie. Maria is constantly surprising me with her ever growing photography talent and each photo I stumble upon seems to only be more gorgeous than the last. Just when I think she’s mastered it, she creates a new post with even more inspiring photos and recipes. And that is what keeps me always coming back to Pink Patisserie.


Continue Reading…

Dark Chocolate Chunk Angel Food Cupcakes with Brandied Strawberries

April 20, 2013



If you are a regular around here you may have noticed my usual ‘Searchable Saturday’ post missing these last two weeks. I am currently re-vamping that weekly column and will hopefully have it back in the coming weeks. To hold you over until it’s back, feel free to find my weekly inspirations over on Pinterest.


I learned all my baking techniques backward. Instead of learning the basics right off the bat – I dove right into vegan baking after moving into my first kitchen. This means I can whip up a Vegan Chia Latte cupcake like no one’s business but often times still feel lost when trying to make a traditional cake…like one that involves 4 sticks of butter and 3 pounds of powdered sugar (do people actually put that much butter in a single recipe?!).

I’ve begun working backwards and am try to get a grasp on as many aspects of baking as possible (branching out from vegan and gluten free). So, while wondering through the bakery section of my co-op the other day, I realized I’ve never made angel food cake from scratch. It’s something that has always been so easily accessible to me going up that I never really gave a thought to where it came from. Perhaps from a box? Or from the grocery store bakery? But what about homemade – had I ever really had homemade angel food cake? I was beginning to doubt I had. And something needed to be done about it.

I began doing research (AKA searched google) and discovered my challenge for making angel food cake would be whipping the egg whites until ‘soft peaks formed‘. I had read that term before and only accomplished it one other time – when making The Butterscotch Roll Up Cake for this little blog’s birthday. I remember being SUPER intimidated by this term and watching many youtube videos before trying it myself. I had successfully accomplished making those ‘soft peaks’ but had pretty much steered clear of any recipe with this step in it since. However, the rest of making angel food cake seemed SO simple with its few ingredients and minimal steps that I knew I could shy away no longer.

In the end, the soft peaks term was nothing to fear. I used this handy visual guide from TheKitchn to make sure my egg whites were whipped properly and boom – the cupcakes turned out light and fluffy! Oh, and delicious. The chocolate chunks sank to the bottom because of the light batter but it made an amazing angel food sandwich – with dark chocolate on the bottom, boozy strawberries on top, and angel food cake in the center.



Dark Chocolate Chunk Angel Food Cupcakes with Brandied Strawberries

Brandied Strawberries:

  • 1/2 pint strawberries, sliced
  • 1 Tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1/2 Tablespoon brandy

For the cupcakes:

  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar, divided
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 5 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 dark chocolate chunks (or regular chocolate chips)

For the frosting:

  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 Tablespoons milk


Slice the strawberries and place them in a bowl with the brown sugar and brandy. Cover and place in the fridge while you prepare everything else (try to let them sit in their for at least an hour).

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and slightly grease a 12 muffin pan.

In a small bowl, combine the flour and 1/4 cup powdered sugar. Set aside.

Add the 5 egg whites to your stand mixer bowl and beat until foamy. Next, add the cream of tartar and salt and turn the mixer up to high. Gradually add in the remaining 1/2 cup of powdered sugar and then vanilla extract. Beat until soft peaks form.

Next, fold in the flour mixture in three additions. Try to keep the batter as light and fluffy as possible and doing it in three additions will help not to weigh it down. Keep folding until everything is incorporated.

Transfer batter to the prepared muffin tins and bake for 15 to 18 minutes. You can tell they are done if the center is browned and bounces back slightly when you touch it.

Remove from heat and transfer to a cooling rack (I’ve read that you should place them face down on the cooling rack so they don’t sink – I didn’t have a problem with them sinking but would recommend you do this step just in case).

To make the frosting: Use a mixer to beat the butter until creamy. Next, add in the powdered sugar and vanilla and continue beatings on medium speed. Add milk a tablespoon at a time until the desired consistency is reached.

Drain the strawberries of any excess sugar liquid (or reserve it to drizzle on top).Once the cupcakes are cooled, frost them and top with brandied strawberries.



Baked Blueberry & Lemon Donuts

February 27, 2013

Okay, so I totally lied to you guys. I told you that I would have this donut recipe for you yesterday and it did not happen. It’s not my fault – Tuesdays are my downfall and I should have known I wasn’t going to have the time to post about donuts. I’m sorry. Forgive me? Cool.

What I won’t apologize for are these donuts. Yes, they are chocked full of sugar and flour. BUT, they are ALSO full of blueberries (antioxidant heaven), cinnamon (regulates blood sugar), lemon zest (vitamin C), and are BAKED. See, why not look on the positive side here before you get worried about starting your day on a sugar high. But really, if you are concered, these make great afternoon snacks, lunchtime dessert, 2nd breakfast treat, and nightime dessert. So versatile too – I know! Crazy.

These donuts are a product of what was once a breakfast loaf. Filled with lemon and blueberries (as mentioned above), I topped these little guys with cinnamon and sugar to give it that streusel style topping. Pretty much irresistible anytime of the day, I’d suggest whipping up a batch of these the next time you get a sweets craving.



Baked Blueberry Lemon Donuts

Makes 6 baked donuts (or 12 small baked donuts)
  • 1 3/4 cups flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • dash of salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 4 Tablespoons butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)
  • zest from 1 lemon



  • 3 Tablespoons sugar
  • 3 teaspoons cinnamon


Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a donut pan. In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In another bowl, whisk together the egg, sugars, and vanilla extract.  Add the dry ingredients to the wet ones and stir until just combined. Add in the melted butter and then fold in the blueberries and lemon zest.

Baked for 20 minutes or until the tops have browned (baking time will vary greatly depending on the size of the donuts / your oven). Once browned, remove from oven.

Mix together the sugar and cinnamon for the topping. Dip the donut tops in the sugar/cinnamon mixture while they are still warm. Serve and enjoy!






Song pairing:

Searchable Saturdays

February 23, 2013



1. ADVENTURING /// I’ve had a bit of the winter blues this week so Wyatt demanded that we take a lunch break at the greenhouse on Thursday. I was totally against the idea because it felt more stressful to find parking, pick up a sandwich, walk to the place, AND get back to work in an hour than it was worth. But that all changed when we got there. We ate our sandwiches in the ‘tropical’ section (we are talking 85 and humid – heaven!) and I forgot all about my annoyances from work (or the fact that I had to be back in a timely fashion). Sometimes I forget how happy greenery makes me and breathing in the fresh, humid air was the biggest stress- reliever I felt all winter.

2. WANDERING /// We are headed to Florida in a little over 2 weeks and I cannot think about anything else. Biking to the beach. Grilling out for every meal. Swimming. Sun bathing. Swimming holes. Smelling the ocean. Swimming. Exploring the marshes. Digging through vintage stores. Roadside diners. GAH – SO EXCITED!

3. CREATING /// This is it. This is going to be the weekend that I finally try to make macaroons. It’s such an intimidating dessert but that is still not an excuse to keep putting it off. To be honest, I’ve never even ATE one before…let alone made them. This is an experience that needs to happen.

4. LUSTING /// Been OBSESSED with the idea of chopping all my hair off and dying it black or red. We are talking 90′s bob here. I have mega long brown hair (picture in the top left) and just want to do a drastic change. Must have stood in front of my mirror at least 4 times this week with the intention of chopping it all off but backed out each time. I don’t mean to sound shallow but cutting your hair is scary. True Story.


I hope you have a fantastic weekend ahead of you. I’m off to do some major thrifting / check out the new LUSH cosmetics store that opened this week. Hopefully my love for consumerism will boost my bitterness towards this snow / slush weather.

Boozy Stout Brownies

November 28, 2012

I was soooo excited to receive the newest edition of Chickpea Magazine in the mail last week that I instantly had the urge to start cooking out of it. I could have chose the healthy Wild Rice Stuffed Acorn Squash or the hearty Butternut Squash Fennel Lasagna but instead I was drawn to these Boozy Stout Brownies. Alcohol and chocolate? Go figure.

These vegan gems were extra rich and gooey. I’d suggest munching down on these with a big glass of Homemade Soy Milk and plan on sharing them with your friends. These are perfect for that Holiday vegan potluck coming up or to bring in to work (Am I the only one who works with handful of vegans? I bet not!).



Boozy Stout Brownies

  • 1 cup flour
  • 3/4 cup dark cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup canola or coconut oil
  • 1 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup soy yogurt
  • 1/2 cup stout beer
  • 1/2 cup vegan chocolate chips


Preheat oven to 325 degrees and line a 8×8 pan with parchment paper.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, salt, and cocoa powder. In another bowl, combine the brown sugar, oil, yogurt, and beer. Make a well in the center of the dried ingredients and add in the wet ingredients. Fold dry into wet until a thick batter has formed. Lastly, fold in the chocolate chips.

Pour mixture into prepared pan and cook for 30 minutes or until the center has set.

Let cool slightly and serve warm!



Chai Latte Pancakes + A Giveaway

October 26, 2012

Okay, so I have a confession. I don’t really like water…I know that sounds weird and maybe it’s because the water in my town is HEAVILY polluted but it just does not do it for me. Soo…bland. I’ll drink it if it’s boiled and has tea steeped in it..or if it’s gone through the process of being brewed into coffee. Other than that, I stick to sparkling water. The heat wave that struck the Midwest this July really got me addicted to canned seltzer water…and to flavored fizzy water. And here I am, 3 months later in a bit of a rut with my 4 cans of flavored sparkling water a day. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE my sparkling water but, for a change of pace, I was very excited to try out this new all natural bubbly “soft drink” that Cascal approached me about it.

Cascal All Natural soft drinks are crafted with natural juices (no added sugar except from the juices) and fermented for fuller flavor. At first, I was a little put off by the word ‘soft drink’ because sugary pop comes to mind and I do not usually drink soda. However, this stuff is not the average soda you are used to getting at McDonalds. It reminds me of a mix between my beloved seltzer water and a sparkling juice. The end results are just terrific.

A few of my favorite parts about this soda? Well, they have AWESOME and intriguing flavors. My favorite was the Crisp White which had notes of Pear, Apricot, and Magnolia. Even the one with a chocolate note (Ripe Rough with notes of Chocolate, Rose, and cherry) had a refreshing and not overly sweet flavor to it. And if I have not convinced you already, each can is only 60-80 calories. 60-80 calories for a soda? Ohh yeah!

Anyhow, if you are into trying these out, head to your nearest Whole Foods to pick up your favorite flavor or enter my giveaway for a chance to win a sample pack! The sample pack will have the following five sodas in it:

Crisp White – With notes of pear, apricot and magnolia

Ripe Rouge – With notes of cherry, rose and chocolate

Fresh Tropical – With notes of mango, jasmine and kaffir lime

Bright Citrus – With notes of lemongrass, tangerine and pineapple

Berry Cassis – With notes of black currant, tangerine and lemon

And now for the fine details…

How To Enter:

Leave a comment below telling me your favorite fall soup recipe.

For Extra entries:

Like Cacal or Vegetarian Ventures on Facebook and leave a comment below saying you did


follow Cascal (@CheersCascal) or Vegetarian Ventures (@shellywester) on Twitter and leave a comment below saying you did!
***Make sure to include your email in the comment below so I know how to get a hold of you! This giveaway will be closed on Friday, November 2nd at 10 PM Eastern time and is (sorry!) open to US residents only.***

This is now closed!


Oh, also, shifting topics…I have a recipe for you! Here is a recipe for some vegan chai latte pancakes that I created using a combination of Isa Chandra’s Chai Latte Cupcakes and Perfect Pancakes recipes!

Perfect way to brighten up your morning on these gloomy fall days!

Chai Latte Pancakes

  • 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 Tablespoons canola/vegetable/coconut oil
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 2 black tea bag or 2 teaspoons loose leaf tea
  • 2 Tablespoons maple syrup
  • dash of vanilla extract

In a small saucepan, heat the milk until just boiling. Remove from heat, add in tea bags, and cover. Let steap for 10 minutes.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, and cloves. Make a well in the center of the dried ingredients and add the oil, almond milk, maple syrup, and vanilla extract. Fold the dry ingredients into the wet until everything is well combined.

Heat a large skillet over medium and pour about 1/4 cup of batter onto the skillet (you should be able to make 2-3 at a time depending on the skillet size). Repeat with the rest of the batter.

Serve warm with cocoa powder and syrup.

Searchable Saturdays

October 20, 2012

1. Using balsamic vinegar AND peppercorn in a cocktail? I’m intrigued.

2. David Lynch has been in my life a lot lately. We recently started rewatching Twin Peaks (it’s one of my favvvs) with some friends and have been selling through his limited edition Eraserhead LPs like hotcakes at work. This means it was no surprise that I was highly amused by this recent interview with him about his food habits and this video of him making quinoa (which is just sooo….David Lynch).
3. I love love love this DIY on how to make an old backpack into a cute vintage-esque flower purse!

4.  So in love of the concept of the Makeshift Society. I wish that we lived in a big enough city to make our own clubhouse…Midwest edition!

5. With the days getting shorter, I’ve been thinking a lot about lighting in our home and am starting to contemplate replacing some of the light fixtures that came with our renter home. Maybe Ombre lighting?

6. It’s Saturday? I could use a Spicy Bloody Mary. Right. Now.

7. We made these pumpkin donuts this week for a movie night and they were fantastic!


Mmmmkaa! And now I am off to find myself a Bloody Mary…

Have a wonderful weekend!



July Wrap Up

July 31, 2012

Well, it’s that time again! July has already flown past us and it’s time to start reflecting. Here are my favorite posts from this past month:

1. Ah yes! The Blueberry Peach Cobbler Cake that I made for our 4th of July funsies. I feel like I have never experienced a cake that was not only so packed with flavors from the fresh fruit and spices but also stayed moist for days after! Soooo. delicious!

2. The post I made about our Lake Picnic! Although this does not have a recipe included, it was fun to play around with these photos and work to really try to capture the beauty that comes along with spending an evening at Lake Monroe.

3. This was the first recipe I made with our CSA box. The summer squash was so fresh that our farmer had literally picked it earlier that day! ah! and the buttery crumble on top made for a mouth-watering mess that I could get use to indulging in!

4. Blueberry Limeade Cocktail – it was very exciting to make my own simple syrup (and so freaking easy!) and then serve it to all our guest at our House Warming Party. The blueberries made this drink the most beautiful deep purple that I have ever seen a cocktail!


As far as my summer goals, I think the only thing I crossed off in July was ‘Take Time To Do A Little Yoga Everyday’ and ‘Try New Cocktails’. I really need to get on the ball here because August is what I consider to be the last month of summer. Sadly, my puppy torn up the part of the garden with cucumbers so there will be no pickling of my own cucumbers this year. With that being said, I think it’s time to tweak my summer list a bit…



3. Pickle my own grown cucumbers


3. Learn to can


And I think I will be holding off on making cheese until the weather cools down…that is actually going to be a great recipe to play around with when it’s cold and I need to amuse myself for the afternoon.

So…goals I plan to tackle in August:

1. Start working on my recipe zine

2. Learn to can

3. Learn to like mushrooms // start cooking with mushrooms more

4. Go camping (if the weather cools..)

5. DIY projects: macrame planters // homemade rings // Billy Buds (see here)




Sweet Berry Tart

April 5, 2012

You can probably expect to see a lot of baking posts in the next month. Things are winding down with school which means stress is at an all time high as I finish this chapter in my life and begin to prepare for a new one. This entire year has been a game of decision making and I am constanly hoping I make the right ones. The time is nearling where I will begin to see where my decision takes me and I feel like I have been holding my breath waiting. In the meantime, I’ve turned to yoga and baking to cure my anxiety.

This tart was influeced by how beautiful I thought the Galette was that we made the other month and this could almost be considered a sweet spin on that recipe (although I am going to continue to call it a tart because I have a diffferent “sweet spin” in mind that I plan to recreate for a sweet Galette ASAP- stay tuned for that!).

Anyways, this tart did turn out beautiful and absolutely delicious! I have become  a big fan of these “free form” type crusts instead of the traditional because I just love the rustic look it gives to the pies; it just gives off more of a home cooked feel than standard pies that mimic the same kind you purchase in the store.

For the crust:

  • 1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 stick cold butter, cut into small pieces
  • 3 tbsp ice water


  • 1 pint strawberries
  • 1 pint blueberries
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • dash of lime juice
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 egg + 1 tsp water, beaten together

  • 1 tsp strawberry jam
  • 1 tsp water

In a large mixing bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, and salt. Using your hands, rub the butter into the dry mixture until it all resembles coarse sand. Then, add in the ice cold water and form a ball of dough. Wrap in plastic wrap and place in the freezer for about 5 minutes or until chilled.

To make the filling, combine the berries, cornstarch, sugar, lime juice, and cinnamon in a large bowl. Let sit while you roll out the dough to help make a thick syrup.

Take the dough out of the freezer and use a rolling pin to make a 12 inch circular crust. Scoop the filling into the mixture and make sure to leave an inch or two empty to fold over. Next, fold over the edges and brush them with the egg/water mixture.

Cook for 15 minutes. Lower heat to 375 and cook for an additional 20 minutes or until the berries have softened and the crust has browned.

Combine the teaspoon of jam and water together and crush on top for a nice glaze.

Serve with ice cream or whip cream.

Make sure to share with your puppy and roommates!

Guiness Chocolate Cake

March 7, 2012

Update 10/29/2012: Don’t forget to stop by and check out VV’s newest giveaway which ends 11/02/2012!


I’ve been in a bit of a weird funk lately. I’ve been feeling overwhelmed with my school career coming to a closing and me having to enter into the “real world”. My usual solution to ridding any irrational overreaction is to bake. And what better to make than something that combines my other two problem solvers: chocolate and beer!

I made this cake for Wyatt’s birthday a few months back and still have craving for it ’til this day. The Guinness brings a whole new tint to the chocolate flavor that is just irresistable. And the moist cake pairs perfect with all your favorite ice cream treats or some refreshing green beer.

This would also be a perfect treat for St. Patrick’s day which is approaching at massive rates! Perhaps this cake is even an excuse for you to host a St. Patty’s Day Potluck (it is on a Saturday!) to share this treat with all your favorite people!


PS next week is my last spring break ever (well…sorta a break for me. I have to work at the record label Monday, Wednesday, and Friday) so that means I have soooo many recipes planned to conquer on my time off. Expect great things coming ASAP!



Guinness Chocolate Cake

  • 1 cup Guinness (guess you’re gonna have to dye the leftover beer green)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2/3 cup sour cream
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

Preheat oven to 350 and fill a round baking tin with parchment paper (or grease it if you don’t have paper handy).

In a small saucepan, heat the beer and butter over medium-low heat until the butter has melted and they are combined together. Remove from heat and stir in the sugar and cocoa powder.

In another small bowl, whisk together the eggs, sour cream, and vanilla. Slow mix into the beer mixture. Mix until smooth.

Cook for 40 to 50 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean in the center.

Let cool completely and lather with your favorite chocolate icing and loads of sprinkles.

Enjoy with a big glass of green Guinness!

Marbled Parfait with a Raspberry Brownie Goat Cheese Filling

February 24, 2012

Woah, that is a mouthful. It’s needed though- all those ingredients stick out so much in every bit that I would feel guilty not letting you know what you are in for. The salty goat cheese counteracts that brownie so well that they are an [odd] match made in heaven. Plus, anything with goat cheese is amazing. Right?

I should probably admit that I’m delusional to think that this is a “healthier” version of dessert but this was an attempt at some sort of weird compromise. I love parfait for dessert because they are light and sweet but not too sweet. Wyatt loves chocolate and ice cream and anything with more calories than is supposed to be consumed in a week. SOO I made this thinking it would satisfy both of our needs…but to be completely honest, this is for no one on a diet or watching their calories. It’s rich and indulgent in the best way possible.

I would imagine you could probably even top this with ice cream instead of granola. And replace the raspberries with strawberries or blueberries or whatever you’d like. Get creative…that’s the best part about baking!


Marbled Raspberry Brownie Goat Cheese Filling:

Brownie Part:

  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt


Goat Cheese Filling:

  • 1 cup raspberries
  • 8 ounces goat cheese, room temperature
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 2 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Other things to put in the parfait:

  • granola
  • more fruit
  • greek yogurt
  • honey

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9×9 baking dish. In a large bowl, mix together the shortening, sugar, and vanilla. Next, beat in the eggs. Then add the rest of the dry ingredients and fold until well incorporated. Pour into prepared baking pan.

In a separate bowl, beat the cream cheese and goat cheese together. Next, cream the butter, sugar, egg, and vanilla until well blended. Fold in the raspberries (I crushed them a little bit on purpose so that they would bleed some pretty marbled red into the mix). Pour on top of the brownie mix.

Cook for 30 minutes or until it starts to brown on the top. Let cook for at least ten minutes then prepare your parfait with whatever fixins’ you’d like. Don’t worry if the brownie mixture is gooey because that helps it blend well with the other parfait ingredients.

Mmmmm, gooey goodness. Don’t share with your puppy but feel free to share with your roommates!



Vegan Trail Mix Cookies

January 29, 2012

There are several things that sparked the inspiration for these cookies. Where to begin?

First, I’ve been on the hunt for a cookie jar for months now. Goodwill always has loads of them but they are always disgusting or characterless and I had practically given up on the idea of ever falling in love with one…until the other day. While out “window shopping” (which usually immediately leads to purchasing things) I came across a massive sale at [undisclosed store] (I don’t like to admit that I shop at this store because they can be obscenely expensive and the amount of money that I give to this place is undesirable) I found this gem. Not only was this cookie jar exactly what I had been dreaming about but it was also 3 dollars. This immediately ended my “window shopping” and sparked the consumerism in me.

Since then I’ve named him Velvet and he lives on top of our microwave. He’s an awesome addition to the family but I needed to christen him with a batch of fresh cookies so that all my roommates would have to marvel at  (or at least interact with) him in order to get to the baked goods. But then I came to the dilemma of what kind of cookies should I make?

There were two factors that came into play when deciding to conquer these trailmixers. First, I’ve been doing this yoga class and it’s totally brainwashed (or inspired?) me into trying to be a healthier and more conscious person, which means I’ve been replacing all my refined sugar with agave nectar as much as possible. So I needed a recipe that used agave. Next, I’ve had this terrible yearning for summer…beaches, picnics, grilling, tans, etc. So as soon as I saw Isa’s version of this cookie it immediately reminded me of taking hikes at Griffy lake and living off of trail mix for 4 days straight at Bonnaroo.

And let me tell you, no cookie has ever tasted so much like summer as this one! These guys are loaded with chunks of chocolate, cranberries, and peanuts, melted together with a gooey chocolate center. I cannot wait to replace all my other picnic fare with these guys. And they are semi-healthy too!


Vegan Trail Mix Cookies

  • 1/4 cup almond milk
  • 1 tablespoon ground flax seeds
  • 2/3 cups canola oil
  • 3/4 cup agave nectar
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 3.4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 3/4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup vegan chocolate chips (or m&ms)
  • 1/2 cup roasted peanuts (or any nut you’d like!)
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 325 degrees and prepare two baking sheets with wax paper.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together the almond milk, flax seeds, oil, agave nectar, and vanilla.  Next slowly add in the flours, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Once everything in well combined, fold in the chocolate chips, peanuts, and cranberries.

Spoon tablespoon size chunks of dough onto the baking sheets (they don’t spread out much so don’t worry about putting them too close together) and bake for 12 to 14 minutes.

Vegan Chocolate Surprise Cookies

January 2, 2012

Since yesterday was National Hungover Day (because who doesn’t drink on New Year’s Eve REGARDLESS of what commitments you have made for the following day), Abby (my wonderful, goofy, and hung over roommate) and I decided to spend the whole day baking. We had this vision of creating a cookie buffet (for no particular reason) that ended up consisting of sugar cookies, fruity pebble rice crispy treats, five layer bars, and these little guys. Although we baked dozens of cookies, these were the winners.

We decided to make these because we both have a fear of fillings. The idea of making a filling for a cookie, donuts, or pies just SOUNDS intimidating and after several minutes of discussing visions of turkey basters and jelly injecting,  we came to the conclusion that the cookie buffet would not be complete without filling. And luckily, these cookies did not demand either of those things.

The filling was actually really easy to tackle and it did not take much longer than a normal cookie would. The cookies were adapted from Isa Moskowitz’s Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar and I want to let you know that we used half sunflower seed butter and half peanut butter for the filling section but feel free to use all peanut butter if that is what you have on hand.

Chocolate Surprise Cookies

For the cookie:

  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 3 tablespoons Almond milk (or soy milk)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

For the filling:

  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1/3 cup sunflower seed butter (or more peanut butter)
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 to 3 Tablespoons almond milk (start with 2 and add another if mixture is too dry)
  • dash of vanilla extract

Mix the oil, sugar, maple syrup, milk, and vanilla extract in large mixing bowl until it forms a smooth, caramel paste. Next, add in the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt and mix until it forms a thick, moist dough. Set aside.

In another bowl, use a hand mixer to cream the peanut butter, sunflower seed butter, powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla extract. The dough should be thick enough for you to form but still a little gooey so it has a yummy texture!

Now, preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease two baking sheets (or line them with parchment paper). Prepare the inside filling by forming 20 small balls using the palms of your hands. Place them on a small sheet of wax paper.

Now go back to the outer cookie dough and take heaping tablespoons of it at a time. Form a ball by using the palm of your hand and then flatten. Place the peanut butter filling in the center and fold the chocolate dough around it. Roll in your palm a bit more to reform the ball and place on the cookie sheet. Repeat with the other 19 balls and put them about 2 inches apart on the cookie sheet because they will expand.

Cook for 10 to 12 minutes (depending on how big you ended up making them). Let cool for at least five minutes so they will harden up and the cookie will have a crunchy shell with a soft, gooey center.

Munch down and share with all your grateful, hungover friends/roommates/boyfriends/pets (but hopefully your pets are not hung over!)

Miniature Strawberry and Cream Cheese Danishes

November 21, 2011

Sometimes I get weird cravings…like I’m preganant (I’M NOT) or I’ve been in a foreign country and am being neglected of that one thing I’m use to. Anyways, on this particular day I needed some cream cheese in my life. Prefferably, lots of it. So I raded my kitchen and decided to try out homemade danishes. I made them in cupcake dishes because everything is more adorable in miniature and they were the perfect bite size snacks to take on the go the next moning.

They make 12 so feel free to make them for all your relatives as something small before the big feast on Thursday! Or bring them to a potluck because everyone knows the person who brings the sweets is the favorite at the party anyways. But anyways, whatever you end up doing with them make sure to at least try them right out of the oven because I’ve never had homemade fresh danishes and damn, they blew my mind.


Miniautre Strawberry and Cream Cheese Danishes

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 large egg yolks, room temperature (Reserve some of the egg whites to brush on top of the pastry)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons strawberry jam
  • 14 ounce box of puff pastry, thawed


Preheat oven to 375 degrees and grease a 12 muffin pan. In a large bowl, cream the sugar and cream cheese together with a blender. Next, add in the egg yolks, vanilla, and jam.

Divide the puff pastry until 12 even squares (they might be a little more rectangular- that’s okay). Place a square in each of the muffin tins. Next, drop a tablespoon of filling into each muffin tin and fold over the pasty (I experimented a little and did a couple different designs of folding and twisting and keeping the center open…they all looks cute so do whatever you feel like).

Brush the tops with alittle bit of egg whites. Cook for 20 minutes and serve warm.

DIY Soy Milk with Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies

August 20, 2011

Okay so I’m posting two recipes in this one because what’s the point of milk if you don’t have cookies to dip in it?

You would think that making your own milk would be hard but it’s actually a really straight forward process that MAYBE takes an hour at the most AND half of that time is leaving it to simmer which makes the perfect window to whip up some homemade cookies to accompany it. Plus it’s ridiculously cheap if you buy the soybeans in a bulk section at the grocery store (Mine ran me back about 50 cents).

Making this household staple was so simple I wonder why people don’t do it more often (I think I’m gonna tackle homemade ketchup next!).

On a completely different note, I will warn finding good vegan chocolate chips is not always an easy task. I usually stock up on them when I go to whole foods because the 365 brand is super cheap and super delicious so that is what I’d recommend. Also, these cookies turned out super thin  [probably because I substituted corn starch from the tapioca flour like the original recipe had] but made for a deliciously crispy texture (hopefully that’s what you’re into. Yes, that is what you’re into).

DIY Soy Milk

  • 1/2 cup dried yellow soybeans
  • 5 1/2 cups water
  • dash of salt
  • 1/8 cup sugar (more if you like it sweeter)
  • cheese cloth

Rinse the soybeans and let them soak in cold water overnight.

Drain the soybeans (the next morning, duhhhh) and liquefy them in a blender with 2 1/2 cups of water until they are a milky texture. Add them to a pot with the rest of the water (3 cups) and bring to a boil on high while stirring constantly [foam will start to form on the top so skim it off as this happens]. Once boiling, drop heat to low and let it simmer for 25 while just stirring occasionally.

Take off heat and strain out the leftover beans using a cheesecloth and/or strainer [with very small holes]. Add the salt and sugar to your liking and refrigerate until cold.

That’s it.

Proceed to dip warm cookies in it, make green smoothies, and share with your kitty.

Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies

(Adapted from Isa Moskowitz’s Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar)

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 2/3 cup canola oil
  • 1/4 cup almond milk
  • 1 tablespoon of corn starch
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup vegan chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 and spray two cookie sheets.

Whisk together the sugar, oil, milk, vanilla and corn starch until it is thick and mixed (this should take a minute or so sooo be patient!). Add the baking soda, salt, and the flour (in parts. 1/2 cup at a time and mix and repeat). Mix in chocolate chips with your hands so they dont get smashed (or a spoon if you are that much of a clean freak).

Use a big spoon to scoop them onto a cookie sheet (size doesnt matter as long as they are all consistent. I made huge ones but that’s just my personal preference). Cook for 7 to 10 minutes.

Enjoy with your DIY milk.

Vegan Strawberry Chocolate Cupcakes

August 17, 2011

This is usually the part of the blog that I ignore and go straight to the recipe so feel free to skip the next few paragraphs. Oh also, I decided to start a food blog so we’ll see how that goes.

My baking adventures today were provoked by a co-worker’s birthday. I’m still rather new at the record label and if nothing else than people will know me by my baking. Also, If you don’t already know than you will soon after reading a few of my posts, I love my vegan baking but I especially thrive on cupcakes (who wouldn’t when they were introduced to vegan baking by chai latte cupcakes with cinnamon swirl frosting?). Anyways, so after raiding my fridge and discovering some ginormous strawberries I knew I had to make a strawberry shortcake cupcake for my co-worker.  I’ve been in the process of moving and have seemed to misplaced my Isa’s cupcake cookbook that I always turn to (I know. I know. This is the point where you roll your eyes because she is still trying to do that whole ‘punk rock independent girl’ type image that we all got over in the late 90′s/early 2000′s but shhhh because that woman knows how to make a damn fine cupcake). I ended up having to turn to the internet and found a recipe by some food network nominee or something and they turned out pretty damn fine.

So all in all, the cupcakes were scrumptious, they are super basic and easy, everyone at work ate all of them, and I had a perfect excuse to make a first post.

Chocolate Strawberry Yumcakes

Chocolate Cupcakes

  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • ½ cup canola oil
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract


  • 1 cup non-hydrogenated vegetable shortening
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 to 5 tablespoons soy, almond, or rice milk
  • perhaps some red sprinkles or neon green food coloring (optional, obviously)
  • A few sliced fresh strawberries

Procedures (The break down):

Set oven to 350 degrees. Fill cupcake pan with [wolf] liners.

Mix all the dry ingredients for the cupcake portion in a bowl and blend the wet ingredients in another. Combine the wet with the dry and mix until well combined. Fill the liners with the batter until about 2/3s full and bake for 15-20 minutes. BAM. THAT’S IT.

And while those are baking make the frosting. Combine everything in a bowl and mix with a hand mixer. Once light and fluffy, use a spatula for any mix ins you might have (sprinkles, food coloring, chocolate chips, whatever).Oh and slice some strawberries while you are waiting for the timer to go off too.

Assemble as you please. Then Mow down. Share with your cat. Stare at them. Whatever you’d like.

Okay. That’s all I’ve got.

Oh and a real quick side note. Please please please bare with me as I figure out how the hell to take good food pictures. Food blogs are straight up stupid without mouth watering pictures but it maybe be a few weeks before I find the right lighting and back drop (my old orange VF vinyl player will have to do for a back drop for now).