Lettuce: the new bread?

My husband and I have always been fiends for lettuce wraps. Whenever we go to a veg-friendly Chinese restaurant we always seek out these juicy little appetizers. And since it’s basically sauce and tofu rolled up into crispy air (because seriously, how many calories DOES lettuce have?), I don’t feel nearly as guilty about pigging out.

The funny thing about our love of lettuce wraps?

We’ve never actually made our own.

So this week I set out on a mission to find the perfect blend of ingredients to make a super simple, but super delicious lettuce wrap.

And due to my fear of cooking with tofu (no, really, I only use it when microwaving or desserts are involved), I wanted to find something filling, yummy AND cheap. Did I mention cheap?

The answer? Chick peas. They’re probably one of my go-to ingredients for anything lunch or dinner oriented because they’re like little blank bean canvases. In the mood for Mexican? Sprinkle some taco seasoning on these puppies and you’re set. Maybe a little Indian? Just add some curry and eggplant and you’ve got a mega tasty dish.

Needless to say, these woman-made lettuce wraps will be making several more appearances on our weekly meal plans.

Chick Pea Lettuce Wraps
(Makes about 8-10 wraps depending on cup size)
Ingredients:
15.5 oz can of chick peas
2 cups finely chopped or shredded carrots (I bought whole carrots, coined them and stuck them in my Ninja Blender, you should buy one right now)
1 cup finely chopped or minced onion (Used Mr. Ninja again here)
1 TBS minced garlic (more or less, adjust to your tastes)
2 tsp «chicken» seasoning blend (we use one from McCormicks)
1/4 cup soy sauce (we use low sodium to feel better about ourselves)
1 head of lettuce

Directions:
Cut up carrots and onions.
Line a saute pan with some oil and cook chick peas, shredded carrots, minced onion and garlic on low-medium heat.
Add seasoning and soy sauce.
Cook on low simmer for 10 minutes.
Cut head of lettuce in half or quarters (depending on how big or small you want your lettuce cup to be) and peel off layers, stacking them off to the side.
Add chick pea mixture to lettuce wraps and top with favorite Chinese-style sauce (we prefer a wasabi ginger one).
Wrap up and eat.
Don’t forget your napkin, these bad boys are super juicy!

Celebrating Father’s Day the Family Sunday Funday way

Ryan celebrated his second Father’s Day yesterday.

 

How unfair is it that because I went into labor on Mother’s Day 2010, I didn’t actually have Pearyn until the next day and therefore didn’t get to celebrate said Mother’s Day. So now Ryan will always have one extra Father’s Day than me!

We started the day of with some delicious buttefly, duck and tulip shaped pancakes (hey, that’s what you get when you’re a father to a little girl). They passed the Pearyn test as she devoured the three she had on her plate and even ate a leftover one later for brunch. 

We spent the rest of the day with my parents, where we made an even more incredible crock pot vegan pot roast (see next post for recipe) and watched Pearyn run around like a crazy person. This little girl seriously loves her some outside time — rain or shine. It makes it pretty easy to participate in our Family Sunday Funday anthem when our darling daughter absolutely beams from playing outside!

She’s already amazing mommy and daddy with her animal-loving ways. 

She plays fetch with Karma, tries to sit with my parent’s cat Buddy and hands off bones to their three great danes, Walter, Kelsey and Bailey. In fact, Pearyn actually climbed into Walter’s cage with him yesterday (which is basically the size of a twin bed) and shut the door so they could hang out one-on-one. Note: we tried to snap a photo of this, but Pear refused to cooperate.

 

All and all I’d say it was a pretty successful Father’s Day (again). The best part? No animals had to suffer in the making of our super awesome Father’s Day feast AND we have delicious leftovers!

Sounds like a good day to me!

Vegan blonde butterscotch cookies

There is something crazy magical about butterscotch. I think it basically improves any sweet item you decide to make. Don’t believe me? Try spicing up your blah carrot cakes with a little butterscotch frosting, you’ll never look back.

Vanilla who?

Anyway, while I generally like to bake cupcakes, muffins and breads (oh, my!), yesterday was one of those times when I felt like filling my adorable cupcake cookie jar with something I actually made (not those store-bought Oreo’s)!

And I found a box of butterscotch pudding mix in my cabinet (because really, who doesn’t have a box of butterscotch pudding just laying around the house)? We usually stock our shelves with Dr.Oetker Organics pudding mixes, because I use pudding mix for a lot more than the normal person should!

Not to mention I had some left over vegan white chocolate chips (they do exist!), so I figured why not throw it all together to form one super delicious cookie?

And that is how chewy these chewy, butterscotch pudding white chocolate chip cookies were born.

Blonde Butterscotch Bites
(Makes 3 dozen)
Ingredients:
2 cups flour (I use a whole white wheat combo)
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup white sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup butter (yes, that much)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 3.4 oz package of butterscotch pudding mix
3 tsps Ener G egg replacer mixed with 4 tablespoons water
White chocolate chips to taste

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Soften butter and mix with egg replacer mixture and vanilla extract.
Add white and brown sugar, mixing to form a sandy paste.
Add budding mix. Whisk to form a creamy, thick, pudding-like texture.
Add 1/2 cup flour mixture and stir, then continue to add the rest until all four is mixed in. Add baking soda.
Mix in white chocolate chips to taste.
Roll mixture into one-inch balls and flatten. Spread on lightly greased cookie sheet.
Bake for 8-10 minutes.

Don’t let these little cookies fool you. The pudding gives a really squishy-looking consistency. These should not stay in more than 10 minutes or they will burn. I was skeptical and left them in for 12 because they just didn’t look baked enough, boy was I wrong. 10 minutes max!

Enjoy 🙂

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Hold the roast!

As promised in my last blog, I have here the world’s best vegan pot roast recipe. This hunk of deliciousness is amazing, filling and seriously easy to make. After searching long and hard for the best homemade seitan recipe (and A LOT of trial and error), I think we’re finally on the right track with this one!

Crock-pot Roast
(makes about six servings, best cooked in 6-8 quart crockpot)
Ingredients:
2 cups vital wheat gluten
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 TB Italian seasoning
1 TB onion powder
1 TB garlic powder
2 TB ketchup
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup steak sauce
1 1/2 cups water
16 oz bag of frozen, chopped carrots
1 large onion chopped in medium-sized chunks
5-6 medium potatoes, chopped into quarter-size chunks (we used red-skinned, golden ones)
4 TBS minced garlic
1 15.5 oz can of veggie stock

Directions:
Turn crockpot on low
Mix together wheat gluten, nutritional yeast and seasonings.
Add soy sauce, steak sauce, ketchup, 2 TBS of garlic and water.
Mix and knead for 2 minutes. The mixture should be slightly damp.
Form a roast-like loaf and place in crockpot.
Add chopped carrots, onion and potatoes around loaf. (We used a lot of veggies that they almost covered the roast, we like veggies, what can I say?)
Pour can of veggie broth over roast and veggies.
Top with 2 TBS garlic and Italian seasoning and onion powder to taste.
Cook it on low for 3 hours and then on high for 2 hours.
Eat and enjoy!
(P.S: It tastes even better the following day!)

Flawless fudge (sans cruelty)

What can I say? I’m a sucker for vegan marshmallowey goodness, this recipe pays homage to vegan «fluff.»

I’ve never made fudge in my life.

While I’ve tackled multiple layer cakes, cupcakes with fillings, frostings and ganache galore, even pies with homemade crusts, dizzying lattice weaves and complicated crumbles.

But I’ve never, ever made fudge.

Supposedly there’s an art to it. A magical time that signifies the chocolate goop is ready to become a real, live block of fudge. But apparently if you so much as blink, this streak of fudge perfection will pass you by and you’ll be stuck with a very unhappy, not delicious glob of burnt sugar and chocolate.

It’s a really good thing I didn’t read all of that «fudge lore» prior to making this fudge, because I might have been too scared to try it.

And then, I wouldn’t have ended up with this ridiculously fabulous, almost sickeningly sweet pan of fudge.

Flawless Fudge
(Makes 9″ baking square of fudge)
Ingredients:
2 1/2 cups sugar (certainly can’t go wrong with a recipe that starts like this)
12 oz bag of chocolate chips (I use Enjoy Life because I have the best results with this company)
7 oz marshmallow fluff (I use Ricemellow from Heaven for all my vegan fluff needs)
1/2 stick butter
1/4 cup almond milk (although I imagine coconut milk would have been fabulous too, just nothing too watery like rice milk)
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp salt

Directions:
Grease a 9″ baking square and set it off to the side.
In a large saucepan, stir sugar, salt, butter, almond milk and fluff on low heat until melted and blended.
Increase to medium heat and stir mixture into a boil (a consistent boil, not a «air bubble or boil» boil).
Boil slowly and stir for about 3-5 minutes (shouldn’t go over 5 minutes).
Try the «soft ball test.» This is that magical moment of fudge puberty I was referring to. Basically all you do is take a glass of ice water (minus the ice, you just want it that cold) and dribble a few drops of this fluff mixture into it. After letting it cool in the water for 10-15 seconds, you should be able to take it out of the glass and roll it into a small ball. If it seems too melty still, allow it to boil for the full 5 minutes (total, not additional).
Once the fudge passes the test, remove it from heat and stir in the vanilla and chocolate chips.
Stir until you can stir no more.
Pour into baking square and allow it to sit. (Throw it in the fridge if you’re really impatient).

You can add nuts and all those goodies, but I prefer good old fashioned, clean fudge.

Pudding … for breakfast?

Don’t go jumping to conclusions.

I am in no way endorsing the eating of pudding cups for breakfast.

But there is a way to incorporate a little pudding mix into an already unhealthy breakfast item to make it slightly more unhealthy (and WAY more delicious).

Pancakes.

The best pancake I ever had was a pillowy, melt-in-my-mouth sort of gift from Heaven. And because I have such a stellar cook of a husband, he discovered this little trick all on his own.

Once upon a time we were looking for tapioca powder, I think. Or maybe it was arrowroot. At any rate, I was a virgin vegan and we didn’t realize the plethora of powders and flours and roots that were available at our local health food store. So we set out to find some other powdery substance to both bind our pancakes and make them puffy circles of tastiness.

The answer? 

Pudding.

Go ahead, make these in massive batches and full all your skeptical «vegan pancakes cannot be good» friends.

 

Puffy Pudding Pancakes

(makes 8-12 pancakes depending on how glutenous you are)

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cup flour

1 TBS sugar

2 TBS powder pudding mix (there are several gelatin, dairy free versions available to vegans)

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

1 cup vanilla coconut milk (we like coconut milk for our pancakes because it’s got a not-overly sweet vanilla twist to it)

Directions:

Turn burner on low-medium and heat up small amount of oil in skillet.

Combine dry ingredients in a medium-size bowl. 

Combine wet ingredients in a small bowl.

Add wet ingredients to dry, stirring until the batter is slightly thicker than cake batter.

Drop spoonfuls of batter onto skillet (whatever size your heart desires — just remember you do have to flip that bad boy)!

Flip when golden brown.

Top with chocolate chips, powdered sugar, fruit or just good old fashioned butter and syrup. The options are endless!

(PS: To make them extra special, use cookie cutters to cut out shapes!)

Ch Ch Ch Changes …

I’m in the process of making some serious changes around Cupcakes for Pearyn.

Bear with me.

Please.

I’m testing out backgrounds, styles and photos, not to mention go-go-gadgeting the side bar, so until I’ve found something that’s more «Pearyn meets Mommy’s vision» AND user friendly, well, let’s just say there are orange construction barrels all over this site. (And why shouldn’t there be? I can’t leave my house without running into one, so in my opinion cyberspace is very fair game).

Among these exciting changes is the new and not improved because it seriously is new, Cupcakes for Pearyn Twitter! Are you a tweeter? Do me a big, huge favor and click on that fancy link there and «follow» cupcakes. Just think of it as the mini muffin of this fine blog.

I wish that I had more time to delve into our adventures over the last few days, but honestly, I’m drained just thinking about them, let alone typing them all out. And the sun kind of sucked all the energy out of me anyhow.

So here’s a preview of all the fun we’ve had here at Cupcakes the last few days.