Category Archives: Dessert

The Ultimate Brownies

Um, for all of you who own The 100 Best Vegan Baking Recipes, Kris is not throwing around the word “best.” In other words, when she calls her recipe for super fudgy brownies “The Ultimate Brownies,” she means it. They are actually what you would want to eat on your ultimate–i.e. last–day on earth.

Yesterday was rainy and dull here in Claremont. I bet a lot of you are scoffing at my complaining about Southern California weather, but I think I can speak for all my fellow Sagehens (yeah, that’s our Pomona mascot…) when I say, we didn’t sign up for this! Anyways, due to said horrible weather, everyone in my suite–including yours truly–was a little grumpy. I decided to bake the most decadent brownies I could find to rectify the situation, and that’s where Kris’ recipe came in!

I used Kris’ peanut butter stripe mixture from her blog as well, and you can see that, I have the same Baker’s Edge brownie pan–so every brownie has at least two edges! I made half without peanut butter though because you never know if some of your friends are brownie purists. Personally, I think the PB only enhances these brownies. :)

I don’t know what kind of magic occurs when you mix the seemingly standard ingredients in this recipe together, but whatever it is, it makes the best brownies you’ve ever tasted. That’s what my best friend Ilana said, and brownies are her favorite food. This girl knows what she’s talking about. Plus, they were this good even when made with whole-wheat flour!

With that perfect flaky top, those lightly caramelized edges, and a texture that’s so chewy and fudgy you can’t even handle it, these brownies are too legit to quit.

If you want to win someone’s affections this Valentine’s Day, I think I’ve just shown you how to do it. And another hint: if I’d had any non-dairy vanilla ice cream, I might now be able to tell you that a brownie sundae would have been the only way to improve upon this perfection. Looks like I’m telling you anyways though–what can I say, I have intuition!

Raw Chocolate Cupcakes

It’s a rainy day here in Southern California (I didn’t sign up for this), and the streets are far too flooded to walk around (I just soaked my tennis shoes on the way to the Campus Center), so naturally, I headed to my blog. There are a few things I could post on, but I’ve always found chocolate to be the best remedy for a gloomy day. So I give you, not just chocolate, but Chocolate Cupcakes from Raw for Dessert!

Yep, the same little cuppies who are now gracing my new header, which a few of you were kind enough to comment on!

These miniature cupcakes are super simple and fun to make, like every other recipe I’ve made from Raw for Dessert (see my review). The “cake” is made of dates, walnuts, cocoa powder, and vanilla, and the frosting of cocoa powder, coconut oil, and maple syrup. My sister was a fiend for these!

They’re moist and rich–just like any chocolate cake should be–baked or raw! Man, I wish I had one of these right now. I’ll have to console myself with the knowledge that I’m going to the LA Babycakes tomorrow! ;)

Raw for Dessert

I was recently contacted by the Book Publishing Company in Summertown, Tennessee with the opportunity to review one of their many vegan cookbooks! Being a fan of some of the BPC’s classics–such as The Ultimate Uncheese Cookbook and Becoming Vegan–I was more than happy to take advantage of the offer, and gleefully requested a copy of Raw for Dessert by Jennifer Cornbleet.

I love raw desserts. Not only are they easy to make and incredibly healthful, but they generally seem to feature more unique, creative, and exciting combinations of flavors and textures than their cooked counterparts. I’m not gonna lie–I love me a good chocolate chip cookie fresh from the oven, but sometimes a raw chocolate brownie, rich and dense, can do the job just as credibly.

Before I get to the recipes I made, I just want to say that this book is laid out really nicely, and it truly runs the gamut of the dessert world in its 7 chapters: Basics (mix-and-matchable creams, sauces, frosting, and crusts that many of the subsequent chapters require), Fruit Desserts (ranging from simple strawberries soaked in orange juice to the more complex Banana-Caramel Crumble, which I made), Sorbets, Ice Creams, and Sundaes (whether you want Concord Grape Sorbet or a Knockout Brownie Sundae, this chapter’s got it!), Cakes, Cookies, and Bars (Cheesecake, brownies, etc.), Pies and Tarts (which includes a pumpkin-less Pumpkin Pie that I’m dying to try), Creamy Desserts (you probably thought you’d never have crème brulée again after going vegan, but what about a raw Vanilla Bean Crème Brulée?!), and Candy (Truffles and stuffed dates galore!).

I tried to cover the book’s variety in choosing my review recipes, so there’s a little of everything!

First up, Dark Chocolate Truffles.

Talk about crack in spherical form. Made from coconut oil, dates, maple syrup, and cocoa powder (okay, so these aren’t quite raw due to the last two ingredients, but they’re a heckuva lot more raw than what I’d be eating otherwise!), these little gems were melt-in-your-mouth sinful.

I made half of them with the traditional cocoa coating, and half using the coconut variation that the recipe provides.

Next time I make these, I might try the curry variation. My mom vetoed it this time around, but what does she know?!

Along with the truffles, I made some Pine Nut Caramels. Who knew that dates, pine nuts, and vanilla were so sexy together? These caramels lived up to their name–buttery, sweet, and, well, caramel-y!

Leaving the Candy chapter, I also explored Fruit Desserts by making the Banana-Caramel Crumble, and, boy, did I choose wisely.

Bananas are mashed with a Shortbread Crust, then topped with a date-cashew butter-maple syrup caramel sauce, and finally with more crust crumbles. I took Cornbleet’s suggestion and placed the crumbles in a slightly heated oven so that they would “warm up,” while still remaining raw.

The crumble was quite sweet, but given that it’s served in small ramekin-sized portions, it’s just right. My family and I agreed that no one would ever know that this dessert was raw without being told.

In my last post, I mentioned that I made a raw carrot cake to go with the standard carrot cake for my sister’s birthday. What I was actually referring to was the Spice Cake from this book, to which I added some grated carrots, and frosted with Vanilla Cashew Cream. Lucky for you, the Book Publishing Company has given me permission to share one recipe, and I knew it had to be this one.

Raw Spice Cake with Vanilla Cashew Cream
Yield: one 6-inch cake (8 servings)

Cream Ingredients
1 cup cashews, soaked for 8 to 12 hours (1 1/4 cups after soaking), drained and rinsed
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons water
1/4 cup light agave syrup or maple syrup (I used maple)
1 vanilla bean, seeds only or 2 teaspoons vanilla extract (I used extract)

Ahead of time: Soak the cashews for 8 to 12 hours. Drain and rinse. Soaked cashews can be stored in the refrigerator for 2 days.

Place the cashews, water, and agave syrup in a blender and process until very smooth. Stop occasionally to scrape down the sides of the blender jar with a rubber spatula. Add the vanilla bean seeds and process until well combined. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour before serving.

Store in a sealed container in the refrigerator, Vanilla Cashew Cream will keep for 5 days.

Cake Ingredients
1/2 cup raw almonds (unsoaked)
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded dried coconut
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
Pinch ground nutmeg
1 cup raw walnuts (unsoaked)
1 cup raw pecans (unsoaked)
8 pitted medjool dates
1 teaspoon orange zest
1/2 cup raisins
1-2 carrots, grated (my addition!)
1 tablespoon maple syrup or dark agave syrup (I used maple)

Place the almonds, coconut, cinnamon, ginger, salt, cloves, and nutmeg in a food processor fitted with the S blade and process until finely ground. Add the walnuts and pecans and process until finely ground. Add the dates and orange zest and process until the mixture begins to stick together. Add the raisins, maple syrup, and carrots and process briefly to incorporate.

Line a 6-inch cake pan with a parchment-paper round. Pour the nut mixture into the pan and distribute it evenly. Press down with your hand to compact.

To serve, run a knife around the edge of the pan to loosen the cake. Place a serving plate upside down on top of the cake pan. Invert, then lift the pan off. Remove the parchment round.

Frost with Vanilla Cashew Cream.

Covered with plastic wrap, Spice Cake will keep for 5 days stored in the refrigerator or for 2 weeks stored in the freezer.

This cake is wonderfully dense, moist, and rich, so a little goes a long way. The orange zest was an especially nice touch–every bite was full of its vibrant flavor. Paired with the velvety sweetness of the cashew cream, this cake was dreamy.

If you didn’t get the message yet, this is a book that’s worth buying. Whether you’re an omnivore, vegan, or raw foodist, you’ll flip over these and countless other recipes. Plus, as far as I could see, none of the recipes called for a dehydrator, which, if I may generalize based on my own experience, can be frustrating for the average raw food amateur. As far as I’m concerned, Raw for Dessert blows Ani’s Raw Desserts (the only other raw dessert book I have) out of the water!

What are you waiting for? Go make some raw cake! If you’re still skeptical, check out Hannah’s, Celine’s, Bianca’s, and aTxVegn’s reviews!

Lean, Mean, and Nineteen

So my baby sister turned 19 a few days ago! We went shopping during the day, and to her favorite restaurant, Pita Jungle, for dinner.

We don’t do birthday desserts at restaurants though.

Instead we come home to homemade cake–in this case, Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting from The Joy of Vegan Baking.

This cake is quickly becoming our go-to birthday cake recipe. It’s perfectly moist and sweet (and the icing ROCKS), but, making it with whole wheat pastry flour as we always do, not totally unhealthy.

In decorating, I decided to go for the “Alice in Wonderland” look, because, if you know me at all, you know that the only thing I like more than peanut butter is Alice. :)

I also made a raw carrot cake for me to have since I’m trying to go easy on sugar and gluten right now (of course, everyone else had a little of it too, but they were mostly too full of the baked carrot cake to really have a slice). I’ll post about it soon (maybe with the recipe!) when I review the cookbook that it’s from.

I bought Olivia an intense Phoenix Suns plush blanket for her birthday. This girl is obsessed with the Suns (I’m talking watches-all-the-press-conferences and often-cries-when-players-get-traded obsessed), and is always complaining about the cold at Colgate, where she goes to school in central New York, so this blanket seemed like the perfect gift to both appease her and shut her up. ;)

To Olivia: a year older, but as weird as ever.

Green with Envy

At least that’s how I think you’ll feel as you read this post. You’re welcome.

I don’t think Green has ever come up in my blog before (at least not more than in passing), which is bizarre, considering that it’s been – and continues to be – my favorite restaurant since I went vegan. It’s vegan fast food – okay, maybe not fast food, but quick, comfort food – at its finest.

Green is a completely vegan restaurant in North Tempe, almost in Scottsdale, but not quite. Tempe(h) for the win! Now that I think of it, it’s really the only vegan restaurant I know of in Tempe, and maybe Phoenix. There’s plenty of vegetarian places, many of which have a ton of vegan options or are mostly vegan, but I think Green’s the only one that’s legit enough to not only be 100% vegan, but 500% more delicious than everywhere else.

Green has a mix of Asian and American options, including appetizers and salads, customizable flatbread pizzas, po-boys, sammies, burgers, stir-fry bowls, and, most importantly, the infamous tsoynamis.

This guy used to be a special, but eventually was added to the regular menu. Um, I wonder why?…

The Mexicali burger: Green’s homemade burger patty with organic garbanzo hummus, zesty nacho cheese, vegan mayo and spicy chipotle sauce. With the only side I ever order: tahini coleslaw! On an Ezekiel bun, of course! If you could have your junk food on whole grain bread for only a dollar extra, wouldn’t you do it too? There’s not much to say about this burger except that, like all their sandwiches, the flavors come together just right, providing you with a melty, gooey mess that’s as satisfyingly wonderful as it is difficult to eat without your formerly clean face becoming a casualty of the meal. The coleslaw is cool and rich, with little flecks of peanuts balancing out the creamy tahini dressing. It’s always the perfect foil to the warm and hearty sammies.

This sandwich is a special, and only a special, for now: the Tempeh Reuben!

I’ve never had a real reuben before – if you can even call a sandwich made of ground toxin- and antibiotic-laden flesh “real,” that is – but this one was amazing. Spicy, toothsome tempeh, tangy sauerkraut, and creamy vegan thousand-island dressing. Mmm.

This here is another favorite, not least because it’s oh-so-adorable name.
The Texas “moo-shroom” po-boy: “pulled” and shredded portabella with caramelized onions and peppers slow cooked in Green’s espresso BBQ sauce.

As you can see, they don’t skimp on the filling. It usually takes me a few minutes to eat the stuff outside my sandwich with a fork before I even take a real bite. Not complaining though…

The moo-shroom po-boy is even messier than the Mexicali burger. Just look at how saucy it is. (pun INTENDED!)

Although I usually order sandwiches or stir-fry bowls (their mock chicken is one of my favorite faux meats of all time!), occasionally I’m up for a pizza. My only problem being overcoming my revulsion – fear? haha – of white flour, as I’m pretty sure these aren’t whole wheat flatbreads.

Butttttt, that sentiment is pretty easily overcome when this awaits me:

Green’s namesake, the Greenza! Homemade pesto sauce (basil and pine nut) with vegan mozzarella cheese (they use Teese). This one was topped with artichoke hearts, spinach, and caramelized onions.

Here’s one that my friend ordered! The Western: Green’s vegan BBQ sauce with vegan mozzarella cheese. Jo topped hers with roasted jalapeños and mock chicken because she’s bad-ass like that!

No visit to Green would be complete without the obligatory Tsoynami (Think a Dairy Queen Blizzard, but vegan and 3265561487x more amazing).

Green makes their own vegan “tsoft tserve,” and it’s the best fro-yo style vegan ice cream I’ve ever had. And the mix-ins. Oh, the mix-ins. Imagine every vegan thing you’d ever want on a sundae at your disposal, and that’s how Green rolls. Fruit (berries, bananas, and tropical fruit), multiple forms of chocolate, various flavors of Newman’s O’s, graham crackers, vegan mocha puffs, “captain crunch,” and “berry crunch,” pretzels, nuts, ricemellow fluff, flavored syrups, and of course, PEANUT BUTTER. And not just any peanut butter, organic Maranatha peanut butter. Sometimes they even have special mix-ins, like orange pound cake. There’s about 15 pre-made combos, but I usually design my own.

Here’s the PB&J (Strawberries, PB, and graham crackers) with bananas added:

And a special: the Monsoon, which, if I remember correctly, was chocolate syrup, chocolate cake, and chocolate chips. Of course I had to add PB to it.

I wish I had pics of all the Green meals I’ve had before I got my camera, but that post would be unbearably lengthy, so maybe it’s for the best. But I can guarantee you that this won’t be the last you hear of my favorite restaurant.

How We Love Zee Pizza!

First of all, I just wanted to thank all of my caring readers for being so supportive of me in my half marathon! Your words meant a lot to me, and for those readers who said that my race had inspired them to consider training for one, I’m so glad that I was able to inspire you to inspire yourself! In other running news, I’ll most likely be doing the P.F. Chang’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon at home in January! I guess once you start, you can’t stop! I wanna get under 2 hours!

Now to the main point of business. So, um, Zpizza is the bomb.

Recently having discovered that there’s a Zpizza in Upland, just 20 minutes away from Pomona, my vegan friend Stephanie and my gluten- and dairy-free friend James decided to have a study party with pizza pizza party (to be fair, we maybe did homework for 15 minutes…)

The only pizza I’ve had since being vegan, not counting ones I’ve made myself at home, was at Viva Herbal in NYC and at Green in Tempe (will be posting about that soon!), but NEVER before have I had delivery pizza. Classic, greasy, delivery pizza with a real crust and melty “cheese.”

I’m pretty sure Stephanie and James were in a similar boat, because we were all really freaking excited when these boxes finally arrived (we were also excited that delivery was free…)

Zpizza is unique in that, not only do they have vegan cheese (they used to have a non-vegan soy one with casein, but now they use Daiya, which is soy-free – and free of most allergens, at that – and made of cassava root! They haven’t updated the site yet, so just call your local Zpizza to make sure they now use Daiya), but they also offer whole-wheat and gluten-free crusts, and organic tomato sauce. And that’s not to mention their more than extensive range of fresh and healthful toppings! Some of which toppings you’re about to get a nice little preview…

Steph and I split a large pizza (we ordered whole-wheat, but I’m pretty sure that’s not what we got…oh well). My half was roasted garlic sauce, Daiya cheese (duh), spinach, caramelized onions, roasted yams, pineapple, and fresh basil:

Steph’s was the same, but with eggplant instead of the pineapple, and with tomato sauce as well:

And Jamesie got a nice little gluten-free personal pizza. He wanted his to be a traditional cheese pizza, so he stuck with tomato sauce, Daiya, and basil. Can’t blame him, though. Look at it!

Yeah, I know you’re waiting for the delightfully greasy, mid-bite money shot…

Daiya tastes best hot, so be sure to reheat your slices if they cool down – it really makes a difference in your Zpizza experience, I promise.

Next time, I think I’m getting tomato sauce, Daiya, avocado, sun-dried tomatoes, and cilantro. Oh, and actually on whole wheat this time.

Back to the pizza party. You didn’t think we could end it without dessert, didya?

What flavor? Why, only the best ice cream known to vegankind – and mankind! Purely Decadent Coconut Milk Cookie Dough!

It’s gluten-free, which I had forgotten until I saw the labeling at the store, and then I just knew I had to get it to round out our night. See picture below for humongous chunk of said gluten-free cookie dough.

Happy kids, finally feeling like typical, unhealthy college students.

Dessert (and Tacos!) in the Desert

Hey guys! Long time, no blog! This post is one of the final installments of my effort to stretch my pre-college food adventures into my already-begun-senior-year life! From this point on, posts will be a bit more sporadic and infrequent. I’m sorry, but I have a one-semester Environmental Analysis senior thesis and English senior seminar among many other stressors and responsibilities. I’ll do my best though. I am baking for the Motley, Scripps College’s coffee house, and heading up the 5 College Vegan/Vegetarian Association (VIVA), so hopefully I’ll have some future posts relating to those activities…

Anyways, I drove up to school last Saturday, and one of my favorite things about the drive is my tradition of stopping at the Native Foods on the way! By the time I reached the Palm Desert location around 6:30, I was famished! What does a starving vegan with a penchant for Southwestern fare order? Um, the Tijuana Tacos, duh?!

Soy taco meat, salsa fresca, Native Cheese, shredded romaine lettuce, and guacamole in grilled corn tortillas! Yes, please! The “Native Cheese” was really good – it tasted like some sort of noochy white-bean paste. I haven’t had tacos in a while, so these hit the spot, not the least because it was pretty warm out and these were fresh and light!

I can’t go to Native without getting the Peanut Butter Parfait. I just can’t. I’ve tried.

Creamy peanut butter blend with crumbled Boogie Bars! (Boogies are Native’s glorified banana bread, complete with almonds, oats, coconut, and chocolate chips!) The menu at Palm Desert actually had a typo and said, “Creamy peanut butter bland,” but I can assure you the parfait is anything but bland!

One day I’ll have to try another dessert there, but for now, I’m good.

Also, I said that going to Native was one of my favorite things about the long, steady drive on the I-10 West from Phoenix to LA. My other favorite thing is the stark, yet beautiful scenery:

Teese-y Nachos and Stuffed Mochi

This is a multicultural post, I guess! And who knows – maybe Mexican and Japanese will be the next ethnic fusion cuisine fad.

Okay, so I didn’t actually eat my nachos and mochi together…

If y’all recall my camping post, I had about one-third of a log of Cheddar Teese to use up. It was great in the chili bake and tofu scramble, but I wanted to make something quintessentially “cheesy” with the remainder. I’m also a true Southwestern gal, meaning that my first thought was…NACHOS! And who am I to doubt my gut?

I laid out some Trader Joe’s blue corn chips on a baking tray, plopped on some vegetarian refried beans, and finally – the most exciting part – whipped out the grater and brought on the Teese! Here it is pre-baked:

I popped it in the oven at 325 F for a bit before broiling it for the last couple minutes. I wasn’t sure how well the Teese would melt at those temperatures, but I was pretty happy with the results! I finished it with a little shredded lettuce, guac, and a boatload of salsa.

Then I dug in!

As you can see, the Teese melted pretty freaking well, and it tasted awesome right outta the oven.

Moving on to the mochi! For anyone not in the loop (I wasn’t until recently), mochi is Japanese rice that’s ground into a thick paste and molded into little cakes. When baked, they puff up into little pastries! I bought my mochi at Whole Foods : the brand is Grainaissance, and I chose the Raisin & Cinnamon flavor.

I was skeptical about their puff potential when, after 8 minutes, they still looked pretty flat; but a couple minutes later, upon beholding their inflation. I was squealing with excitement, as my dad, who was working in his office down the hall, could easily confirm.

They’re not very sweet on their own (the ingredients are just brown rice, cinnamon, raisins, and salt), so I took the package’s advice and stuffed ‘em!

I subbed Tofutti for the regular cream cheese and agave for the honey called for, and, well, pecans are already vegan! These little love packets were amazing! Because I stuffed them fresh from the oven, the “cream cheese” and agave got all oozy on the inside, and the flavors combined perfectly. I definitely think the mochi would have been a little plain without the filling. Speaking of the mochi, my dad and I were surprised at how chewy it was! The outside was crisp, but the bulk of it was just…ridiculously chewy.

That’s all I got, but I’ll leave you with a photo of one of the four mochi that came out just a tad bit deformed. It’s Quasi Mochi, the hunchcake of Notre Japan!

Why am I so weird?

More Vegan Brunch: Muffins and Frittata

So I’m still steadily making my way through Vegan Brunch – don’t you worry. First up, Blueberry Ginger Spelt Muffins! Made with half the fat (hello applesauce!) and a little bit of whole wheat flour because I ran out of spelt at 1 3/4 cups…

These muffins had such a nice springy texture and didn’t crumble apart in the slightest. Spelt’s the best, yo. And who can resist those bursting trickles of bluebie juice and little nubs of crystallized ginger peeking out of that muffin top?

I also made the Curried Cauliflower Frittata. This was good, but I didn’t loveee it.

I added an extra carrot because adding extra veggies is always better, but besides that, didn’t make any changes!

Here it is after inverting it. I kind of liked the first way better though…maybe I just don’t know what a frittata is supposed to look like?…

I definitely thought it needed a bit more salt, and the curry flavor was a little bit strong (to be fair though, Isa does warn that you might want to decrease the curry powder). The worst part of it was that I started making it with my friend Jo, but she had to leave halfway through and never got any. Sorry, Jo. Good thing it wasn’t amazing, or I would have felt really bad!

So, this post isn’t just brunch! I have a cookie recipe too. I made some significant changes to an old recipe I had lying around. I made these for a democratic event that my mom was volunteering for, hence the picture after the recipe. These cookies are delightfully chewy with a crisp exterior, and the lemon-cranberry-almond pairing – er, tripling? – is to die for! The banana flavor is subtle, but there. Enjoy.

Oatmeal-Lemon-Cranberry-Almond Bundle Cookies
(Adapted/healthified from my school’s coffee house’s recipe)
Makes two to three dozen

3 cups rolled oats
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon lemon juice
zest of one lemon
1 cup sugar
2 bananas
1/4 cup Earth Balance
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup roasted almond slivers

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix the oats, flour, baking soda, and salt in a bowl and set aside. In an electric mixer, combine the sugar, banana, EB, lemon juice, and lemon zest and mix well. Gradually add the dry ingredients, finishing with the cranberries and almonds. Form cookies into small balls and slightly flatten on a lightly greased baking tray (they won’t spread much at all). Bake for 10-12 minutes, until the tops turn golden brown (they’ll firm up a lot on the tray, so don’t overbake them!)

Vegan Camping: Chili Bake and S’mores!

Sorry for the long absence. Sometimes I just get really overwhelmed by photo editing and uploading and I retreat into my virtual cave where no social media can ever find me or make me feel guilty for avoiding it. I’m sure you all know the feeling. :)

Anyhow, my best friend Jo and I drove up to Flagstaff on Saturday with my dog Rupert (THAT was a fun car ride…), and then Jo, my dad, and I camped for a night near Lake Mary, just outside Flag. For most people, I’m guessing camping means Mac ‘n Cheese, hot dogs, and maybe some oatmeal. But in our household–especially when I’m along for the ride – we’re a bit more gourmet. It didn’t hurt that my mom, sister and I had just bought my dad a Dutch oven for his birthday, either! Knowing we’d have the oven, I decided on the Cornmeal Chili Bake from The Everyday Vegan. That just screams “camping,” doesn’t it? I opted to use canned chili instead of making my own because there’s no need to make things too complicated, is there? Plus, TJ’s vegetarian chili is yummy and full of tofu crumbles (that look alarmingly like ground beef, actually)!

I also may or may not have gone to my favorite vegan restaurant Green beforehand specifically to purchase some Cheddar Teese (and ricemilk chocolate for s’mores), and what goes better together than chili and cheddar “cheese?”

So, we just poured the chili in the Dutch oven…

Spread on the cornmeal topping, which was made by whisking cornmeal and seasoning in boiling water on our cooking stove…

Me and my dad! I handled the cooking and he handled equipment logistics…

Put the top on and piled on the coals…

Sprinkled some Teese on a few minutes before it was done, and voilà! Melty comfort food goodness.

The only unfortunate thing was that our cornmeal topping sunk into the chili (I think it boiled because we couldn’t control the oven temperature like you can in a real oven…), but it didn’t matter because it was still delicious and there were still thick chunks of cooked polenta throughout the stew. We ate it with TJ’s Hemp Tortilla Chips for a nice crunch and dipping assistance! I want to make this every time I go camping…

What self-respecting vegans could go camping without at least attempting to reach that pinnacle of camping activities that is the s’more? S’mores are an entirely possible treat to veganize, but they definitely take some work and planning. In the traditional s’more, you have honey-laced graham crackers sandwiching milk-laden chocolate and gelatin-composed marshmallows. Ew, ew, and ew. So what’s a vegan to do? Well, use Sweet & Sara Vanilla Marshmallows (you could use Dandies too!), track down a Terra Nostra Ricemilk Choco Bar, and make your own graham crackers! Here’s Jo and I having some serious vegan best friend time around the campfire, roasting marshmallows:

And the completed s’more:

Sorry the photos are bad, but they were taken without a flash when it was completely dark except for one measly little gas light!

We also made “banana s’mores.” Should I coin that invention? The marshmallows were fine, but they were pretty stale (I have no idea how long ago I bought them…), so after one classic s’more each, we opted for these–banana’s stuffed with peanut butter and ricemilk chocolate, wrapped in tin foil, and nestled into the coals to melt and caramelize!

These were so good. Bananas are better – and healthier – than marshmallows, so what’s not to love? We squashed them between graham crackers once they were done too! Speaking of the graham crackers, I bet you’re curious how I made them! Graham crackers are traditionally made with graham flour – surprise! – which has a specifically altered proportion of bran to germ to endosperm to make them crunchier, but I made Isa’s recipe for Gwam Crackers, which solely uses whole wheat flour.

They turned out great – just sweet enough and lightly kissed with cinnamon.

Schmeared with PB:

Drenched in PB and melted chocolate chips:

Okay, so back to camping food! Breakfast next morning was, you guessed it, Scrambled Tofu from Vegan with a Vengeance. What a classic. And it comes together like this! *Snaps fingers.* I always use a ton more vegetables than the 2 cups of mushrooms called for. This one included zucchini, cherry tomatoes, and bell pepper as well!

We jazzed it up with s’more (and you thought I was done with s’mores…) Teese, and served it with TJ’s Chunky Salsa. I will never ever ever get sick of this meal. Ever.

More photos from camping and hiking!

I think Jo had a better time with my dad than with me…

Rupert has to wear hiking booties because the pads on his paws are sensitive. Poor baby.

And here’s his aggressive side; though I bet you’d chomp like that too if there was a piece of Ezekiel cinnamon raisin bread schmeared with Maranatha peanut butter in front of you…