Dark Chocolate Maple-Almond Granola

I discovered that if I eat peanut butter too often, puffiness occurs. While I am not allergic to peanuts, apparently, they do bother me some. I decided that my chocolate-pb granola was out, sadly. With a few modifications to that recipe, however, I quickly fell even more in love with this one instead.

When I first created it, I didn’t add the coconut oil, but something was definitely missing. I accidentally left it out in my last batch, and I will try never to do that again. It just isn’t as good. I realize I gave a wide option for how much oil to add, but measuring it accurately before you melt it can be a lazy woman’s challenge. I mean, who wants another measuring cup to wash? I happen to love my glass Pyrex liquid measuring cups and I use them carefully for everything, even dry items, but it does keep you from having that even measure in the smaller plastic ones that you scrape off the excess with a knife edge. So, don’t fret it too much and see how much you get after you melt it in the microwave in a glass measuring cup. Use what you have as long as it is at least 2 tablespoons. I’ve used as much as 1/3 c. before and still had excellent results.

This is wonderful with chopped berries or banana slices, walnut pieces, cacao nibs, or mini chocolate chips.  It also is good on non-dairy yogurt or smoothies, or just by the handful as a snack. 

Dark Chocolate Maple-Almond Granola

  • 6 c. organic rolled oats
  • 3/4 c. organic almond butter
  • 1 c. maple syrup
  • 2-6 T. melted organic virgin coconut oil
  • 3/4 tsp sea salt or Himalayan pink salt
  • 1/2 tsp stevia extract powder (with no other additives)
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 c. organic, unsweetened cocoa powder (the better the brand, the tastier the end product)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Cover a large 17” cookie sheet with unbleached parchment paper.  (If you don’t have one this large, maybe spread it between 2 smaller ones and bake it for less time – 10 minutes each round in the oven – and see how that works.  I used an enormous pan one time, which spread the mix thin, and baked it for the two 15-minute rounds and it burned the edge pieces despite stirring, so it definitely needed less time when spread thin.)

Place the oats in a large mixing bowl.  In a small mixing bowl, whisk the almond butter, maple syrup, coconut oil, salt, stevia, and vanilla.  Sift the cocoa powder through a wire mesh strainer into the almond butter mixture and whisk.  With a wooden spoon or silicone spatula, fold the chocolate mixture into the oats, making sure they are thoroughly mixed.

Spread the oat mixture evenly on the cookie sheet, making sure to not leave the ends thinner than the middle, or they will burn. 

Bake for 15 minutes.  Remove from oven and stir the granola (I use a metal spatula/pancake turner, flipping it over so that what was against the bottom of the pan isn’t anymore.)  Evenly distribute on the pan again, and bake for another 15 minutes.

At this point, if you prefer chewy granola, place the pan on a cooling rack to completely come to room temperature.  If you prefer crispier granola, turn the oven off, stir the granola one last time, and return the pan to the oven for 10-15 minutes.  (You can test the texture of the granola after the second 15-minute bake by taking a piece and setting it on the counter while you are stirring the rest of it.  Taste it and see if you like the texture.)

Place in a glass jar, crock, or other non-plastic container with an air-tight lid to keep moisture out.  This will make around half a gallon or so. 

Chocolate-Peanut-Butter Granola

A while ago, Costco carried a delicious, dessert-like chocolate-peanut-butter granola with little pieces of dark chocolate in it. My hubby was a big fan, and I was buying it often. Then they stopped carrying it to bring out the summery chocolate-berry version. Hubby was not happy. He prefers the other kind. The grocery store carries it, but if you think it was a high-end bag of cereal at a warehouse, let me tell you, the price was worse at the grocery store! I told him that I would see if I couldn’t make a version at home instead.

My sister-in-law, Melanie, gave me a recipe a couple of years ago for addictive peanut butter granola. (I don’t know the source of it, so I cannot give credit for it, unfortunately.) Hubby didn’t care all that much for it. I figured it wouldn’t take too much to turn that recipe into a chocolate variation that he would like. Some tweaking and we have a winner! It isn’t as sweet as the packaged version, but I prefer that. If you want, you can add mini chocolate chips, or break up some chocolate bark into your bowl to make it as dessert-y as the bagged version. Or cut up some fresh strawberries into it for decadence that is healthier….or do both! HA! Yum!

As you can see from the picture, it makes nearly a gallon. Believe me, it won’t last long once somebody discovers it can replace dessert!

Chocolate-Peanut-Butter Granola
(Please note that I use as many organic ingredients as possible)

  • 6 c. rolled oats
  • 3/4 c. natural peanut butter
  • 1 c. maple syrup
  • 1/4 tsp. pure stevia powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 3/4 tsp. sea salt or pink Himalayan salt
  • 1/4 c. cocoa powder, sifted
  • mini chocolate chips or broken squares of chocolate bark, optional
  • fresh berries, optional

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Cover a large cookie sheet with unbleached parchment paper.

Measure the oats into a large mixing bowl. Put the peanut butter, maple syrup, stevia, vanilla, and salt in a 1 quart mixing bowl, whisking until well blended. Carefully stir the sifted cocoa powder to the peanut butter mixture until evenly distributed. (If you add the cocoa before this step, it becomes a thick mess that requires water to be added just to get things to smooth out. Then it takes longer to bake and is a bit rubbery.) Mix the chocolate mixture into the oats, stirring thoroughly, making sure that all of the oats are coated. I found that a long-tined fork works really well for this.

Spread the coated oats evenly onto the parchment-covered cookie sheet. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and stir carefully, trying to get the granola from the ends of the cookie sheet into the middle and vice versa. Place back into the oven for 10-15 more minutes, paying close attention to make sure it doesn’t burn on the bottom. (If you place a small piece of the granola from the middle of the cookie sheet on a plate or the countertop and it hardens, then the rest of the granola is done.) Cool cookie sheet on a baking rack until granola is cooled thoroughly. Store in an airtight glass container.

Serve with mini chocolate chips, or chocolate bark, and/or fresh berries and non-dairy milk.

Savory Baked Beans (with sweet option in notes)

I adore baked beans – sweet ones – so I had to figure out a way to make them taste good without the added inflammatory and caloric additions of sweetener.  These came out spectacularly savory and delicious.  Organic products aid in gaining the extraSavory Baked Beans flavor that the sweet usually masks.  If you still want a touch of sweetness, check out the note at the bottom.

I used a 2-qt casserole and ended up with splatter in the oven.  You might want to use a large dish to avoid that.

Without further ado – here’s the recipe!


  • 4 cans mostly drained organic pinto beans
  • 1 15-oz can organic tomato sauce
  • 1/2 tsp hickory smoke seasoning
  • 3/8 tsp organic dry mustard
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp organic garlic powder
  • 2 tsp organic onion powder
  • 2 T. nutritional yeast flakes
  • 2 c. chopped organic onion
  • 3 lg organic garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 c water, as needed (see picture at bottom for how soupy it should look before baking)

Mix all in a large covered (this can be foil) casserole dish, adding water if things look fairly dry.  Bake at 375 degrees for 75-90 minutes, or until onions are soft enough for your tastes. To speed the baking process up some, you could saute the onions in the 1/4 c of water first.  

Note: if you want sweet baked beans, add 1-4 T. maple syrup, or, perhaps, 1 T. molasses and 1-3 T. maple syrup.  You can also use some applesauce along with the maple syrup to sweeten it more healthfully.  You can’t even tell after it is baked!  It got the thumbs-up from my fussiest eater.Savory Baked Beans uncooked

Whole Grain Bread

love making my own bread.  Kneading the dough is so relaxing.  I made 6+ loaves weekly for my large family for years until we moved to Ohio….where my bread failed suddenly and miserably!  Think bricks.  I tried and tried to make it happen and finally gave up.  Years later I discovered why. The water where we live is extremely hard.  It is also possible that the flour I purchased was an all-purpose flour, rather than hard wheat flour, which will also cause loaves to be rather flat. Thankfully, I recently learned that adding some lemon juice to the dough fixes this problem.  I made sure to buy hard whole wheat flour this time, too.  Hallelujah!  Fresh bread again!  My family has decreased in size as the kids have gradually grown up, so I don’t make 6 loaves a week anymore.  I have to admit….it’s a WHOLE lot easier to only knead 2-4 loaves at a time!

  Homemade Whole Grain Bread

Yields 2 loaves, 8″ x 4″ (see note below)

  • 6 c. hard whole wheat flour (hard white whole wheat is even better for a sweeter loaf)
  • ½ c. dry oatmeal
  • 1 T. salt
  • 4 ½ tsp active yeast * (or 2 pkts)
  • 1-2 T. olive oil
  • ¼ c. honey or maple syrup
  • 2 ¼ c. water
  • ½-1 T. lemon juice (optional, only for if your water is quite hard)

Mix 2 c. of flour with salt in large bowl.  Set aside 1½ c. flour in a small bowl for kneading into the dough later (you probably will not use all of this flour unless your house is very moist.)  Set aside remaining 2½  c. of flour and oatmeal in yet another bowl.

In a saucepan, heat water, honey or maple syrup, oil, and lemon juice, if using, to 105-110 degrees.  Remove from heat and sprinkle yeast into the water.  Stir briefly and let rest 5 minutes, or until a little bubbly.  Pour yeast mixture into the bowl with the flour and salt.  Beat with a wooden spoon, or a whisk, until smooth and for about 1 minute longer to develop the gluten.  Let rest for 5 minutes (if using a spoon, just leave it in there.)  After that, add the remaining flour and oatmeal, mixing well.  The dough should look shaggy.  If it seems too wet still, add a handful of flour from your small bowl of kneading flour.  Dust the counter or kneading area with some of the kneading flour.  Turn out dough onto this and knead** in the remaining flour (give or take, depending on the weather and how dry the milled flour actually is this time and how accurately you measured the flours and water.)  More can be added if the dough seems extremely sticky.  Knead for 10 minutes, gradually adding a little more flour to the counter under the dough, until dough is elastic and springy.  It will slightly push back as you knead it.  If you add too much flour as you knead, the bread will come out hard; if too little is added, it will come out doughy and won’t bake well.

Let the dough sit while you wash the large mixing bowl out and spray or wipe it with olive oil.  Give the dough another knead or two and see if it bounces right back at you.  This will tell you that you kneaded it enough.  Better not enough kneading than too much!  Place the dough inside the bowl, flipping it over so that the top is coated with oil, or you can spray the dough with the oil.  Cover with a damp towel or plastic wrap, and place in a warm (not hot!), draft-free area.  Let rise until double in size.

Oil your 8”x4” bread pans.  Punch the dough down and knead 2-3 times.  Divide the dough into 2 parts.  Form into loaves.  If there is any seam, place it bottom side down in the pan.  Slit the loaves lengthwise and spray or use pastry brush lightly coat with olive oil.  Let rise until double in size – about 1” above the pan. 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Bake 25-30 minutes, or until golden brown.  The finished loaves will sound hollow when tapped on the bottom.  Loosen the sides of the bread with a non-metal spatula and tip them out onto a cooling rack.

The bread slices best when it is 12-24 hours old, leaving smoother slices and less crumbs.  It can be sliced, bagged, and frozen for later use.  It keeps bagged on the counter about a week.

*If using fast or instant rise yeast, you will mix the yeast into the first mixture of flour and salt.  Heat the oil, honey, and water to 120-130 degrees.  You do not have to proof the yeast, or wait for it to dissolve in water.   Beat liquids into the dry ingredients and continue with recipe.

** Knead bread by folding the far side of the dough toward you and push down and away with the heels of your hands.  Then spin it ¼ a turn and fold over again.  Keep doing this for 10 minutes.  You can scrape excess dough off of your fingers that clings at the start and knead that into the dough as you go.  As you near the completion, you will add less and less flour to the surface beneath the dough – just enough to keep it from sticking to the counter and you.  It will change texture and turn from a slight messy shaggy heap into a ball, and finally into a tighter ball of smooth, elastic dough, which will spring back at you as you knead it.  This will be at about the 10 minute mark.  Try not to over-knead the bread.  If you have under-kneaded it, you can knead it a bit longer after you prep the rising bowl.

Note:  If you find that this doesn’t rise as high as you would like, you can double the recipe and put it into 3 loaf pans.  This makes a higher loaf.

Pumpkin Spice Granola

Have you seen this meme on the internet?  Brace-yourselves-Pumpkin(http://makeameme.org/meme/Brace-yourselves-Pumpkin)









If you have, it’s possible you contemplated not even bothering to come see my new recipe because you are tired of seeing pumpkin in everywhere, too.  But how could I not share a fantastic recipe with you?  Even if it is pumpkin.  🙂

Pumpkin Spice GranolaActually, this was an effort to try to convince my not-that-thrilled-with-granola family that granola can be special and just as tasty as the more expensive boxed cereals.  I think it worked at least for one of them, because I didn’t end up having to eat it all myself!

The great thing about this granola is that you put it in the oven for 6-8 hours and forget it.  Go to work, go to sleep; it will be there when you get back to it.  When you walk in the door, or get out of bed, the house will smell amazing!  Your stomach will begin to growl, and you might just decide to have a bowl of it right then before it has had much of a chance to cool off.

Pumpkin Granola

  • 10 c. rolled oats (not quick or instant oats)
  • 1 c. unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 1/2 c. walnuts, pecans, cashews, or your favorite nut to find in granola
  • 1/2 c. juice (apple, white grape, or another gently-flavored juice that blends well with pumpkin)
  • 1 14-16 oz. can of pumpkin puree (1 1/2 c. if you are using a pumpkin cooked from scratch)
  • 1/2 c. real maple syrup
  • 1/2 c. demerara sugar, raw sugar, or brown sugar
  • 1/4 c. coconut oil, melted
  • 1 T. vanilla (or more if you like)
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 – 1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 – 1 1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice

Break nuts into pieces – whatever size you like to chew in your granola.  I break a walnut half into about 4 pieces, roughly.  In a large bowl, mix oats, coconut, and broken nuts.  In a separate bowl, whisk the remaining ingredients.  Pour pumpkin mixture over the dry ingredients and mix until well coated.

Spread evenly onto 2 large cookie sheets.  (I really need to get another stoneware baking sheet.  It works incredibly well here.)  Put on racks in oven and set it to “warm” or 175°.  Bake for 6-8 hours.  (Note:  I have allowed a similar granola to bake for as long as 12 hours before, but it does get very, very crunchy.  If you choose 6 hours, it will be moist enough that you should store it in a cold location if you won’t finish it in a week.)  Place on cooling racks.  Store in an airtight container only once it has completely cooled down.  What you eat before that is up to you!  😉

This is great served with raisins or date pieces.

Maple Baked Beans

Baked Beans 2I adore baked beans ~ hot or cold.  I can even tolerate Bush’s vegetarian canned ones if I have to ~ like when Hurricane Ike’s leftover wind sheers came through our area and our power was out for 2 1/2 weeks!  I love to try baked beans at potlucks, but my favorite ones are my own recipe…which can be different every time since I rarely follow a specific recipe.  I like them plenty sweet and full of onions; best served with potato salad in the summer or cornbread in the winter.  Usually, my beans come out juicier than pictured, but I baked them a little too long while I was away.  The time-bake feature is great…usually.

I have to thank my daughter, K, for getting this written down.  I have never measured before when making them.  😀  She wanted my recipe, though, so I held a measuring cup under the different things I poured in to catch what I would normally have drizzled over the beans until it “felt right.”  Then I actually poured it over the beans and checked to see if it was really enough.  It felt very strange, but it worked!  lol  Now K has a recipe and my blog has a new entry.  Nice.  🙂  Thanks, dear.

Baked BeansMaple Baked Beans

  • 4 cans of pinto beans, drained (or 6-8 cups of home cooked pinto beans)
  • 1 can of butter beans, drained (1 3/4 – 2 c. home cooked butter beans, or add more pintos)
  • 1-2 large onions, depending on taste  (I err on the side of plenty, because they cook down so much)
  • 1/2 c. ketchup (or more)
  • 4-6 T. maple syrup
  • 1/2 c. BBQ sauce (I use Trader’s Joe’s Bold and Smokey Kansas City Style)
  • 1 1/2 – 2 T. nutritional yeast flakes (optional, but adds depth)
  • 1/2 – 1 tsp. garlic powder or 1-2 garlic cloves, minced

Preheat oven to 325-400° (depending on how quickly you want to bake them; add extra liquid if you will be baking them for a long time.)  Mix all ingredients together in a 3-4 qt. casserole dish.  Cover with foil.  Bake until onion is soft and translucent.  This will take 1-2 hours, depending on the temperature you use.  Pull the foil back to check on the onion’s condition, or use a glass casserole so you can peek through the side.

These also work very well in a crock-pot!  Since everyone’s crock-pot is different, I can only suggest that longer is better to make sure you don’t have crunchy onions.  I’d opt for 8-10 hours.

Variations:  Replace ketchup and BBQ sauce with tomato sauce and extra maple syrup and more of the other seasonings.  Or replace BBQ sauce with 1/4 c. ketchup and add 1-2 T. mustard and 2 T. more maple syrup.

These are also mighty tasty if you toss in some chopped up veggie hot dogs or Bacos before you bake them.

Cinnamon Pecans

It’s almost Christmas.  You have everybody’s gifts ~ but wait!  No!  You forgot your kids’ piano teacher (or Great-Aunt Agnes, or the next-door neighbor, or….)  What in the world will you be able to find at this late date?  Never fear…Cinnamon Pecans in a pretty glass canister or a decorative tin will be her favorite teacher’s gift this year.

Cinnamon PecansI highly recommend making a double batch for several reasons.  The biggest reason is you will be sorry if you don’t!  lol  The other reason is that it takes the same amount of time to make a double batch as a single one…and they store well…if they last that long.

These are decadent, let me tell you!  I have never served (or given) them without rave reviews.  In fact, I have to make sure to keep some back in the kitchen, or they will be devoured completely ~ even a double recipe ~ because people can’t stop eating “just one more.”  🙂

As I made these tonight, they were almost to the sugaring point when the electricity went out as a storm came through!  I gave a howl for somebody to bring a flashlight to me quickly.  There was just enough warmth left in the flat ceramic cooktop to complete the process…barely.  They usually look a bit bumpier than these, but the sudden loss of heat changed them a tiny bit.

Cinnamon Pecans

  • 1 c. pure maple syrup (grade B gives the best flavor here)
  • 2 T. Better Than Milk soy or rice milk powder (or enough of whatever non-dairy milk powder you have on hand that would make 1 cup of milk if you added water ~ only don’t add the water)
  • 1/2-1 tsp. cinnamon (Saigon, Vietnamese, etc., if possible) ~ or to taste
  • 1/2 tsp. salt ~ or to taste, but don’t leave it out, because it adds depth to the flavor
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 3 c. pecans (or a mix of your favorite raw nuts ~ while pecans are my favorites, almonds, walnuts, etc., or a mix of them work exceedingly well)

Mix and heat all ingredients in a 3-quart or larger saucepan (a 4-5-quart pan for a double batch) over medium high heat.  Don’t worry if the milk powder doesn’t mix in well at first.  It will dissolve as the mixture is heated.

Spread a 2-ft long sheet of waxed paper out on a counter top or table.  (I use 2 sheets side-by-side for a double batch.)  Continue to cook, stirring/folding frequently.  As syrup thickens, turn the heat down as needed and stir/fold more often.  Don’t try to hurry the process by using too high a heat except at the very beginning.  You’ll only end up burning the maple syrup.  This is a relatively slow process.  Eventually, you will need to constantly stir them and keep a close eye on them.  You’ll know they need constant stirring when the syrup begins to get long strings as you fold it over the nuts.  Cook until nuts are completely sugared with no syrup left in the pan. You may need to keep tossing them for a little bit with the heat turned off and just the warmth of the pan to finish them off.  You don’t want them glossy, but completely sugared.

Spread onto the waxed paper and let cool.

Three Fudge Recipes

Oh, boy, oh, boy, oh, boy!  The holidays are coming and that means it’s time to start pulling out the special recipes.  (And, apparently, it’s also time to start learning the settings on my son’s camera a little better so that my photos have consistent lighting!  Sorry about that.)

Some of you may have given up fudge when you became vegan.  Well, guess what?  I’m here to change that for you!  Plus, this year since I’m writing a vegan food blog, I decided that I might need to branch out a little ~ you know, try a few new flavors of fudge other than my standards of chocolate and peanut butter.  (Funny…my family didn’t complain one bit about being guinea pigs for these experiments!  😀  Now you get the fun results of our taste testing.)  The bonus is that these are super easy to make.

Please keep in mind that though this is vegan it is by NO MEANS healthy, every-day food, and it certainly isn’t on Forks Over Knives’ list of what to include in their next cookbook.  It just means that you get to have some fun food on the goody table at your next party so that you aren’t tempted to partake of the even less healthy versions that contain animal products and trans fats.

Let me know what your favorite is!  There are divided opinions in my family for their favorites.  (Chocolate and peanut butter recipes will be coming soon, too.)

Have ready a 5″x9″, or 8″x8″, or even a somewhat smaller pan (pictured is what I used this time), preferably glass or ceramic, as the fudge doesn’t stick to it ~ or double the recipe and use a 9″x13″ cake pan, or a smaller lasagna pan.  Different pans will make thicker or thinner pieces of fudge.  If you must use a metal pan, you might want to line it clear up the sides with waxed or parchment paper so that you can just lift it out of the pan to cut it, especially if it has a non-stick coating that you don’t want to mar with the knife.

Maple Nut Fudge

  • 6 T. Earth Balance vegan buttery sticks
  • 1/2 c. maple syrup
  • 1+ tsp. vanilla (you can’t go wrong with extra!)
  • 1 T. non-dairy milk powder (or however much your brand calls for to make 1 c. of milk – I used Better Than Milk soy)
  • 4 c. powdered sugar, sifted (use powdered evaporated cane juice crystals to be completely, truly vegan)
  • 1/2 c. chopped pecans or walnuts

In the top of a double boiler or in a metal bowl placed over boiling/simmering water in a regular pot, melt the “butter.”  When it is completely melted, add the maple syrup, vanilla, and non-dairy milk powder, whisking until all of the milk powder is dissolved.  Stir in powdered sugar until smooth.  Add nuts; stir until well distributed.  Take the pan or bowl off of the boiling water and wipe the bottom of it off on a towel or dishcloth lying on the sink edge or counter so that no boiling water drips on you or into the fudge pan.  Scrape into pan and smooth out to the edges with a rubber spatula.  Cover with plastic wrap and chill thoroughly.  (It is easier to cut into pieces if you do so before it firms up completely.)  Must be refrigerated.  For storage more than a day or two, keep in an air-tight container.

Please allow the child within you to clean off the spoon, spatula, and bowl ~ you wouldn’t want any to go to waste would you?  😉

Eggnog Fudge

  • 6 T. Earth Balance vegan buttery sticks
  • 1/4 c. non-dairy milk (I use Silk vanilla soy)
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp. brandy extract/flavoring
  • 1/2 tsp. rum extract/flavoring
  • 3/8 tsp. nutmeg
  • 4 1/4 c. powdered sugar, sifted (use powdered evaporated cane juice crystals to be completely, truly vegan)

In the top of a double boiler or in a metal bowl placed over boiling/simmering water in a regular pot, melt the “butter.”  When it is completely melted, add the non-dairy milk, extracts/flavorings, and nutmeg, stirring to combine.  Stir in powdered sugar until smooth. Take the pan or bowl off of the boiling water and wipe the bottom of it off on a towel or dishcloth lying on the sink edge or counter so that no boiling water drips on you or into the fudge pan.  Scrape into pan and smooth out to the edges with a rubber spatula.  Cover with plastic wrap and chill thoroughly.  (It is easier to cut into pieces if you do so before it firms up completely.)  Must be refrigerated.  For storage more than a day or two, keep in an air-tight container.

Raspberry Fudge

This particular fudge isn’t as perfected as the other two.  It’s texture tends to be difficult to cut once it’s cold and it wants to break into shards or funny-shaped hunks.  I almost removed it from the post, but decided to include it anyway because it tastes so good.  The next time I make it, I will probably spread it out on waxed paper on a very small cookie sheet – then I will just pull up the paper and break the fudge, rather than cutting it, which seems to cause the problems.  The other option is to add extra Earth Balance to soften it some.

  • 6 T. Earth Balance vegan buttery sticks
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 c. raspberry syrup (I used Monin brand that I found at a Home Goods Store)
  • 1 T. non-dairy milk powder (or however much your brand calls for to make 1 c. of milk – I used Better Than Milk soy)
  • 3 T. red food coloring (optional)
  • 4 c. powdered sugar, sifted (use powdered evaporated cane juice crystals to be completely, truly vegan)

In the top of a double boiler or in a metal bowl placed over boiling/simmering water in a regular pot, melt the “butter.”  When it is completely melted, add the non-dairy milk, vanilla, raspberry syrup, and food coloring, if using, whisking until all of the milk powder is dissolved.  Stir in powdered sugar until smooth. Take the pan or bowl off of the boiling water and wipe the bottom of it off on a towel or dishcloth lying on the sink edge or counter so that no boiling water drips on you or into the fudge pan.  Scrape into pan and smooth out to the edges with a rubber spatula.  Cover with plastic wrap.  (It is easier to cut into pieces if you don’t refrigerate it first.)  For storage more than a day or two, keep in an air-tight container.  Refrigerate.  Soften on the counter for 30 minutes or so before serving since it tends to be a better texture and not so crumbly then.

Baked Sweet Potato

  • (My promised post about the Vegetarian Tasting Extravaganza will have to wait.  Alas, my son’s memory card with all of the pictures he took is at his friend’s house.  They do a professional-quality video of the event, and his video clips are being uploaded for integration.)

Okay, so this is hardly a recipe.  But sometimes isn’t it nice to be reminded of a simple thing to make?  I love sweet potatoes anyway they are prepared, but this is a great hands-off way to make them while you are busy with something else.  Plus, it makes your house smell amazing!

Because a sweet potato has so many nutrients in it (I’ve read you could subsist on it alone on a desert island and remain healthy), it can be your whole meal if you aren’t very hungry, or it can be the main dish, especially if you sprinkle it with chopped pecans, or just a simple side dish.  If you drizzle it with maple syrup, it’s a lot like dessert, too!  😀  What a versatile little thing the baked sweet potato is.

Baked Sweet Potatoes

  • 1 large sweet potato for each person
  • Vegan “butter”
  • maple syrup
  • salt, if desired
  • chopped pecans, optional

Preheat oven to 350-425° depending on how fast you want them to get done, or how large/fat your potatoes are.  Scrub the sweet potatoes and place them on a foil-covered cookie sheet so that they don’t touch each other.  Stab them a few times with a fork or sharp knife.  Bake for 1-2 hours (again, it depends on how hot your oven is and how big your potatoes are.) What you want is juices bubbling out of those stabs you gave them and crystalizing, or even blackening, as it drizzles down the potatoes and onto the foil.  They will be intensely sweet if the juices have blackened and you might not even need any maple syrup.  (Nah, you’re right…put the maple syrup on it anyway!  Yum!)  Poke them with a knife to make sure they are soft in the middle.

To serve, place on individual plates and split open.  Add vegan butter and drizzle maple syrup over them to taste, mashing it all together with your fork.  Sprinkle with salt and/or chopped pecans, if desired.

Another option is to remove the skins altogether and toss them onto the foil-covered pan, which allows you to wrap them all up in that foil and dispose of it in one big heap.  There.  Pan cleaned.  😀

Caramel Dip for Apples

I love the fall.  The wonderful smell in the air (especially if you are near any bonfires or woodburning stoves), the brisk temperatures, and the fall colors!  Best of all, it’s finally cool enough to start baking again.  (Although, I still haven’t figured out exactly the best way to get passed the gluten-free issues with my favorite recipes.  Not impressed with most gluten-free options out there.)

One of my favorite tastes of fall has to be fresh apples…crisp, juicy ones that make your mouth water when you write about bite into them.  It’s even more of a treat ~ almost dessert, if you will ~ when you make this caramel dip to go with sliced apples.  Add some popcorn to the deal and I’m all set!  That’s a wonderful light meal, in my opinion.  🙂

If you want a thinner ice cream topping, just cut the cornstarch in half and omit the milk leaving just the 2 T. of water in which to mix it.

This is marvelous with popcorn, too.  It doesn’t harden up to make popcorn balls ~ and I’m too lazy to make them.  But you can drizzle it over the top of a bowl of popcorn and either be a fastidious person and use a spoon, or just dig in with your fingers, licking them as necessary.  😉

Caramel Dip for Apples

  • 1 1/2 c. non-dairy milk, plain or vanilla
  • 1 1/2 c. demerara, turbinado, or raw sugar, or Sucanat, or if you use plain evaporated cane juice crystals, just add a couple tablespoons of molasses.
  • 2/3 c. maple syrup (grade B is the best in this case)
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 T. water
  • 2 T. extra non-dairy milk
  • 1/4 c. cornstarch (or arrowroot, but I like the results from cornstarch better)
  • 2 T. vegan margarine such as Earth Balance
  • 2-3 tsp. vanilla

Plan ahead and have a spoon next to the stove for later in the recipe, unless you are blessed to have your utensil drawer next to your cooktop, or you can plan on using the spoon with which you stir your cornstarch mixture.  In a 3 quart saucepan (trust me on the size!) whisk milk, sugar, syrup, and salt to combine.  Whisk occasionally while cooking over medium heat.  (WARNING:  Do not lose track of what you are doing, because if this begins to boil unattended, it will boil over and make a terrible mess!  And yes, this is experience speaking.)  In a measuring cup or small bowl, mix the cornstarch, water, and extra milk.  Just as the milk and sugar mixture begins to boil, pour the cornstarch mixture into it, whisking constantly.  Cook an addition 2-3 minutes, or until desired thickness.  Keep in mind that it will thicken as it cools if you used cornstarch; not so with arrowroot.  Since whisks aren’t particularly helpful to check on the thickness of things, use the spoon I mentioned earlier.  Remove from heat and whisk in the margarine and vanilla.  If it doesn’t seem thick enough at this point, you can put it back on the stove for a little bit longer.

Pour into a pretty glass or ceramic bowl.  Cover with plastic wrap touching the surface to keep a ‘skin’ from forming.  (Please try to use BPA-free plastic wrap.  According to Jillian Michaels, Saran is the only brand that has taken this protective step.)  Cool in refrigerator.

Serve drizzled over apple slices, or in small bowls for individual dipping.

Yields:  3 cups.