Vegan Black Lager Cupcakes

IMG_0424Cook’s notes: I made some amazing Guinness chocolate stout cupcakes, but you know I hate to leave anyone out when we’re sharing food. This version is perfect for your vegan friends. New Belgium 1554 Black Lager is approved for vegans by You can also reduce the sugar to just 2/3 cup. These terrific cupcakes do not need frosting.

Much like the “Wacky Cake,” which is made without eggs, milk, or butter, these are one-bowl cupcakes. Use a whisk to combine the batter; no mixer is needed.

I adapted the recipe to use espresso powder and black cocoa, which is super-dark cocoa. Use the ratio of 1/3 black cocoa with 2/3 Dutch processed cocoa powder in baking.

1.5 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup [or just 2/3 cup] organic sugar
2 Tablespoons black cocoa plus enough Dutch processed cocoa powder to make 1/2 cup cocoa total
1 Tablespoon espresso powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder, aluminum-free
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
1 teaspoon vinegar
1 cup vegan black lager or stout (such as New Belgium 1554 Black Lager)


Heat the oven to 350°. Line a muffin tin with parchment cups.

Whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the middle of the bowl.

Have the liquid ingredients measured and ready to go before you start to pour. Pour the melted oil, vinegar, and beer into the well. Stir well – batter thickens quickly.

Pour batter into the prepared cups, filling each only about 3/4 full.

Bake on center rack of the oven for approximately 25 minutes.

When cupcakes are done (toothpick inserted in center of a cupcake will come out clean), remove the pan to a wire rack. Let cool for ten minutes, then remove cupcakes from pan, and let them cool completely on wire rack.


Adapted from One Green Planet.


Happiness Muffins (Lemon-Blueberry)

Cook’s notes: These muffins are just amazing, hence their nickname “Happiness Muffins.” I had extra buttermilk in the house, and this recipe was the perfect way to use it up. Many buttermilk muffin recipes call for 2:1 ratio of flour to sugar (such as 4 cups flour and 2 cups sugar), too sweet for me. This recipe uses just 1/2 cup sugar, which is plenty sweet, and the muffins are bursting with berries. I adapted the recipe to use a stand mixer, omitted the glaze, and increased the amount of blueberries.

Stir your flour with a whisk before scooping and leveling it.

Makes 16 muffins (8 servings)

2.5 cups flour
1.5 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup olive oil
2 eggs, beaten
3 Tablespoons lemon juice
1 Tablespoon vanilla

2 cups frozen blueberries

Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Line muffin pans with silicone liners.

Put dry ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer. Use the paddle attachment to blend lightly.

Put the buttermilk and oil in a measuring cup. Add the eggs, lemon juice, and vanilla. Whisk together to beat the eggs lightly and blend the wet mixture.

Make a well in the dry ingredients. Pour in wet ingredients, mixing quickly with a few strokes of the paddle.

Fold in blueberries. Do not mix too long — batter should be lumpy.

Use an ice-cream scoop to portion batter into lined muffin cups, almost to the top of each cup. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, or until golden brown. Transfer muffins to a wire rack to cool.

Source: Adapted slightly from The Comfort of Cooking

Review: Pumpkin and Peanut Butter Cookies

Cookies like muffin tops

Cookies like muffin tops

The recipe makes exactly 12 cookies. These cookies do take 30 minutes to bake and have a damp, heavy texture similar to muffin tops. One critique I have is that the ingredients are not listed in the order they are used. I ended up mixing the canned pumpkin in with the dry ingredients. This did not harm the cookies at all.

I would make these again: they are gluten free, vegan when made with maple syrup, and quite tasty.

Cooks in the US, note that 180C is about 350F for your oven temperature.

Recipe is from the blog The Big Man’s World.


Healthy Makeover: Texas Sheet Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting

Healthier cake is still delicious

Healthier cake is still delicious

Cook’s notes: I made this cake for a friend who loves the combination of chocolate and peanut butter. I couldn’t bring myself to make the original Texas Sheet Cake, which has a huge amount of sugar in it. The cake turned out terrific, and several people asked for the recipe.

Note that the cake is vegetarian, due to the yogurt, but the frosting is vegan. You can easily make the cake vegan by using a vegan yogurt.

Serve extra frosting in a bowl on the side for dipping with pretzel sticks. It’s also great spread on graham crackers topped with banana slices.

Texas Sheet Cake – Healthy Makeover

Recipe from “Chocolate Covered Katie,” who says, “yogurt gives the cake moisture and softness without all the added fat, and I’ve cut way back extensively on the sugar as well. The result is a rich and surprisingly healthy chocolate cake with fewer than 60 calories per serving.

  • Gluten-free
  • Vegetarian (but not vegan, due to yogurt)
  • Eggless

1 cup “Cup for Cup” gluten-free flour blend
6 Tablespoons cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup granulated sugar [vegan sugar preferred]
1/2 cup yogurt (plain, fat-free Greek yogurt)
3/4 cup water
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Peanut butter frosting, see below

Heat oven to 350 degrees F, and grease a 13 x 9 jelly roll pan or baking pan.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the first 5 dry ingredients very well (flour to sugar).

In a separate bowl, whisk together all remaining ingredients. Pour wet into dry and stir until just evenly combined, then pour into the greased pan. Bake 18-19 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted near the center of the cake comes out clean.

Healthy Peanut Butter Frosting

This will make approximately 2 cups of frosting, depending on how much almond milk is used. Recipe is vegan.

2/3 cup natural peanut butter, crunchy style
4 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
8 Tablespoons maple syrup
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 Tablespoons vanilla almond milk, use more to change desired consistency

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the peanut butter, cocoa powder, honey, vanilla, and 2 Tablespoons of almond milk. Mix together. Continue to add almond milk in one tablespoon increments until you reach the desired consistency of frosting.


Recipe Roundup: Tried and Liked April 2015

Black Bean Brownies without Flour (link): One of my coworkers started a Vegan Lunch Club, where we bring dishes to share. It’s been a fun way to try out new vegan recipes. At our first potluck, no one brought dessert, but we talked about black bean brownies. This recipe from Chocolate Covered Katie is great: vegan, gluten-free, and very fudgy.

Honey Mustard Salad Dressing with Greek Yogurt (link): This dressing is awesome on roasted beets or with raw baby carrots. It’s also good on salad. Reduced the honey in the recipe to 2 Tablespoons, and it’s still plenty sweet.

Rosemary-Garlic Chicken in the Slow Cooker (link): A wonderful way to cook boneless skinless chicken breasts so they aren’t dried out. The rosemary and garlic blend to make a delicious gravy.


Recipe Roundup: Tried and Liked Jan 2015

Quinoa Muffins

Quinoa Muffins

BBQ Chicken Quinoa Bowl (link, quickie recipe below)
Inspired by an article on the Weary Chef blog. Conveniently, we had leftover barbecue chicken and pork in the house. This would also be good with the addition of 1/2 cup beans.

Place 1/2 cup cooked quinoa in a bowl. Top with 1/2 cup shredded barbecue chicken (or pork) and additional barbecue sauce. Warm in the microwave. Top with a sprinkle of cheese, and heat for 30 seconds on High until the cheese melts. Serve warm.

Quinoa Muffins (link)
This recipe is an excellent. The cooked quinoa texture is similar to oatmeal. I made the muffins with regular 2% milk and not buttermilk, and they turned out delicious. I used an ice cream scoop to portion out the batter and got 15 tasty muffins (not 12).


Recipe Roundup: Tried and Liked Dec 2014

3 ingredient Eggless Nutella Cookies (link):
Another allergy friendly recipe: eggless, no soy, no flour.Vegetarian, but not vegan, due to the yogurt.

My local grocery store didn’t have Nutella, but they did have a chocolate coconut peanut butter by Wild Friend Foods. I used a gluten-free all purpose flour blend (Cup 4 Cup), fat-free plain Greek yogurt, Enjoy Life semi-sweet mini chocolate chips, and the peanut butter. Glorious and gluten free cookies!

Chickpea Cookies (link):
I’ve been investigating cookie recipes that are both gluten-free AND vegan, so that I can bake for friends with food allergies. I tried a recipe called “I Dare You” Chickpea cookies and it turned out well. A similar recipe by Texanerin omits the oil (her version was posted first, and has lots of tips for the baker). These are vegan if you use maple syrup or agave syrup as the sweetener. Definitely use the Enjoy Life brand of dark chocolate chips: they are allergy-friendly and delicious. The batter blends up quickly in a food processor.

A 15 oz. can of chickpeas yields 1.75 cups of chickpeas, and the recipe uses only 1.25 cups chickpeas. Save the remaining half-cup of chickpeas for salad or snacks.

Cranberry Romaine Salad Smoothie (quickie recipe below):
We were out of baby spinach one day, so I made the Goldilocks Smoothie with 1 cup plain, fat-free Greek yogurt; 1/2 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk; 1/2 cup water; 2 Tablespoons pecan pieces; 2 Tablespoons flax seeds; 1 teaspoon apple pie spice, 90 g (about 3.2 oz.) chopped romaine lettuce, 1/3 cup shredded carrots, 1 cup frozen pineapple chunks without added sugar, and 1/2 cup frozen cranberries without added sugar. Serves two. It makes a pretty, pink smoothie.

Crispy Salmon (link):
Kenji’s technique for salmon in a skillet cooked to 130F (medium) is so easy. We omitted everything else and only followed the salmon steps in the recipe:

  1. Press salmon filets between paper towels to dry surfaces thoroughly. Season on all sides with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a large stainless steel skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add salmon filets skin side-down. Immediately reduce heat to medium-low. Cook, pressing gently on back of filets to ensure good contact with skin, until skin is rendered and crisp, about 6 minutes. If skin shows resistance when attempting to lift with a spatula, allow it to continue to cook until it lifts easily.

  2. Flip salmon and cook on second side until a thermometer inserted into the thickest part registers 120°F for medium rare or 130°F for medium, about 1 minute longer. Transfer salmon to a paper towel-lined plate and allow to rest.

Easy Tuna Casserole from Scratch by the Weary Chef (link):
Another winning recipe from The Weary Chef blog with added vegetables and a homemade sauce (no cream of crap soup in a can). It’s definitely the best tuna casserole I’ve ever had. We used tri-color vegetable rotini. The addition of shredded carrots and asparagus pieces was really clever. Leftovers were still delicious the next day.

I bought actual buttermilk for this recipe (instead of clabbering milk with vinegar). The smallest bottle on sale was 1 quart — I used the leftover buttermilk to bake bread.

Gingered Tuna Salad (link):
I thought this was an interesting take on tuna salad, but it was a little too sweet to me. I had tuna in oil, so I omitted the olive oil. I’d like to try this again with even fewer ingredients: tuna in oil, no added mayo, with 1/2 cup chopped apple and 1 teaspoon ginger powder instead of crystallized ginger.

Holy Yum Chicken … (link):
Holy Wow is what we kept saying. This amazing chicken recipe has a fabulous Dijon mustard and maple syrup gravy with rosemary. We used 2 Tablespoons of rice wine vinegar. The author, Julie Wampler, has a ton of tips.

… served with Roasted Broccoli with Garlic (link):
I have a really good roasted broccoli recipe, but I wanted one that could go in the oven at the same temperature as the Holy Yum Chicken. We used a 12-ounce bag of fresh broccoli florets, lots of fresh garlic, and the extra half-cup of chickpeas from the Chickpea Cookies. Roast it at 450F for 20 to 25 minutes.

Paleo Spiced Nuts (link):
Elana’s Pantry shared this recipe for spiced nuts with no added sweeteners: no sugar, no honey, and no syrups. I made a batch for a friend who is on the Whole30 program. Nuts are still considered a “sometimes, not every day” treat under this program. These spicy, savory nuts are quite tasty.

Warm Almond Milk with Spices (link; quickie recipe below):
Similar to a vanilla hot chocolate. This drink was absolutely delicious after a cold night walking to look at Christmas lights. The recipe authors say, “The combination of almond milk and warming digestive spices balances your blood sugar and stabilizes your metabolism. The extra protein boost from the almond butter helps curb hunger pains. Serves 1.” I omitted the cayenne pepper, changed the method, and put the ingredients in order from most to least.

Heat 1 cup vanilla almond milk, unsweetened, in the microwave for one minute. Stir in 1 tablespoon almond butter, 2 teaspoons maple syrup, 1⁄2 teaspoon cinnamon powder, and 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger powder. Delicious!