VeganMofo you’re so fine, you’re so fine you blow my mind

I’m a pretty firm believer that you should use the tune of «Oh Mickey you’re so fine» whenever possible. And with how excited I am to be taking part in my second VeganMofo, it only seems right to interject it into the most annoyingly awesome song in the world. (Oh, and for all the VeganMofo newbies out there, get ready for an entire October filled with vegan recipes, at least five days a week. Yeah, you’re going to be seeing a lot of me).

Last year my theme was pretty simple. Since I was just getting my toes wet I went ahead and covered breakfast one week, followed by lunch, dinner, sides and desserts. This year, however, I’m going to make it even easier on the rest of you.


This year has taken a little extra preparation, however, because while most of you will be putting brownies and cakes and delicious galore in your oven, I’ll be in my seventh month of cooking a bun in mine. Like a serious, literal, baby in the baby maker oven.

So to ease the amount of dirty dishes (and to keep my pregnancy brain in check), I’ll be devoting Chubby Vegan Mom VeganMofo 2012 to all things crock pot. From awesome soups, stews and bakes to a seriously delicious quinoa breakfast dish, I’m going to show you why your crock pot should be your best friend this fall and winter.

In addition to super hearty, yummy and easy slow cooker recipes, my Fab Five Friday’s will be making a valiant return so tune in to see if I’ve fallen madly in love with something you made over the week.

Stay tuned, we’ve got pumpkin pie oatmeal, buffalo chickpea stew, cheesy blonde hash brown casserole and quinoa pizza balls headed your way this VeganMofo.

Is there something you’re dying for me to slow cook this year? Leave me the dish on your wish list and you just might see it in the line-up.

Happy VeganMofoing!

The easiest vegan snickerdoodle you’ll ever make

In some of my previous posts, I’ve been pretty vocal about some of the negatives and neuroses that seem to occur while I’m growing a human in my body. What I haven’t focused on, is the one massive positive about the stage I’m at in my pregnancy: the food, the food and the food.

I’ve reached the sixth month of pregnancy and let me tell you, it might be my favorite month ever. I officially feel and look like the glowing pregnant women are supposed to (aka, I look like I’ve got a tiny human in my uterus and not a beer gut) and I’m at the point where most of my food aversion is long gone and I’m not so gigantic that the thought of food exhausts me.

Also, the cravings are coming on strong and there’s just no ignoring them at this point.

Last night, I made my first batch of snickerdoodle’s EVER.

It’s not that I don’t like snickerdoodles, I’ve had them before at numerous gatherings, but I never really had the desire to make them because I always felt like if I was going to go to the trouble of actually making a homemade cookie, it was going to be jam-packed with all my favorite things; not just some sugar cookie on cinnamon steroids.

I’m willing to admit when I’m wrong, and boy have I been SO wrong about this magical snickerdoodle my whole life.

Not only was this cookie a snap to make, they came out absolutely perfect: fluffy, a little bit chewy and a little bit gooey.

Oh, and anything covered in cinnamon and sugar can’t be wrong, right?

Snickerdoodle if you Dare
(Makes two dozen brilliant cookies)
3 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups white sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
3 tsp cinnamon
Pinch of sea salt
2 sticks vegan butter melted (I use Earth Balance)
1/2 cup cinnamon applesauce
1 tsp vanilla extract
FOR ROLLING: About 1/4 cup brown sugar, 1/2 cup turbinado sugar (splurge for this, it’s basically the giant sugar crystals you see on muffins from time to time, I think it gives this fluffy cookie the extra pizzazz it needs) and 2 tsps cinnamon (OR to taste, we like our cinnamon in this family). Depending on how crazy you get with the rolling, you may need more or less, just remember the .5 to 1 brown sugar to turbinado sugar ratio.

Don’t worry about the oven yet, you’ll have to refrigerate this dough for 15-20 minutes, you can preheat it then.
Mix together the wet ingredients in one bowl and the dry ingredients (LEAVE OUT the sugars/cinnamon at the bottom of the ingredients for rolling) into another. Add the dry ingredients into the wet and mix until smooth. This dough will have a slightly thinner texture than you’re probably expecting, don’t panic. Once it’s all mixed up pop in your fridge for 15 to 20 minutes. (Don’t skip this step, the dough is way to thin to try and roll in the sugar without it).
Preheat your oven to 325.
In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar, turbinado sugar and cinnamon. (Remember to adjust cinnamon to your taste buds).
Take your dough out of your fridge and use a small ice cream scoop to scoop out a little ball and drop it into the cinnamon sugar mixture. (The dough will still be a little bit soft, this is OK, once it gets covered in sugar and cinnamon it’s much more manageable).
On a greased cookie sheet, plop the little sugar cinnamon ball and apply light pressure (just flatten it out a tiny bit, no smooshing required). Bake for 6-8 minutes depending on your oven. You want to pull these bad boys out JUST as the edges turn a very faint, light brown. WARNING: if you leave them in too long they won’t be fluffy OR soft.
Let them cool on a cookie rack and then enjoy the heck out of one or two (or seven, I’m not judging).

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Vegan Cream Cheese: Never Buy it Again

No, I’m not going to spoil anyone’s vegan cream cheese bubble by telling you it’s somehow not vegan.

I’m going to spoil your vegan cream cheese bubble by telling you how to make it yourself.

And once you make this super yummy cream cheese, you just won’t want to go back to buying it.

Trust me on this one.

Don’t be scared by the ingredients, while some of them may seem like they’re on the pricier side, they’re the type of things that can easily be used in other vegan recipes so buying them in bulk really cuts down the cost for you. Cashews are great to make your own vegan cheese or cream sauce and coconut oil lasts seemingly forever and is great in baking!

Vegan Cream Cheese (it’s as simple as that)
(Makes a seriously decent amount, probably two-three normal tub sizes)
1 1/2 cup raw cashews (soak them in water overnight to soften them)
1/2 cup water
2 TBS hummus (this adds a much-needed tang to the recipe, don’t skip out)
1/4 cup Healthy Top vegan whipped cream (I really dig the whipped-textured cream cheese, this could be omitted but I’d add about 1/4 cup of vanilla almond or soy milk)
1 TBS coconut oil
2 TBS lemon juice (also don’t skip this, adds a bit of zip)

Soak your raw cashews in a bowl overnight. In the morning, throw the cashews, water and coconut oil into a blender (I used my super Vitamix). Next, add in the hummus, whipped cream (this doesn’t have to be ‘whipped’ beforehand, just use it in its chunky block form) and lemon juice.
Refrigerate for at least one hour and stir before serving! Enjoy on anything from crackers to bagels!

The best part about this recipe is that it’s a blank canvas. There are a plethora of varieties you can make with it! The one in the picture above has 1/3 cup brown sugar and about 3 tsp of cinnamon added to it. I topped a pumpkin bagel with this mix and it was seriously, seriously heaven.

Vegan peanut butter brownies, because I said so

I’ve been getting extremely close with my crock pot over the last few weeks. Between entering the third trimester of pregnancy and trying to prepare for VeganMofo 2012, I’ve been making any and every meal I can in my crock pot.

And while I certainly appreciate how amazingly easy it makes cooking (what pregnant mom of a toddler doesn’t like something that allows her to flip a dial and leave dinner cooking for a few hours), I also missed being able to pop something in the oven and have it be done in like 30 minutes. Mainly, I missed making desserts that I could gobble up in like five seconds.

And so I broke down and made some peanut butter brownies. Now don’t get me wrong dear readers, I’m actually not one of those peanut butter addicted people, in fact, I think I’m the only person in my family that doesn’t go utterly gaga for the sticky sweet stuff. But when I get a craving, it needs to be squelched and these brownies did the trick. They have just enough peanut butter in them that they take the edge off the your craving, but they’re not overpowering so you can basically eat the entire pan. Oh, and the vanilla frosting on top certainly doesn’t hurt either.

Oh, and to make matters worse, it’s the kind of brownie where the edge pieces are actually as good, if not better, than the middle pieces.

Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Vegan peanut butter brownies (because I said so)
(Makes a 9X9 pan of em)
Brownie Ingredients:
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup butter (we used Willow Run)
3/4 cup peanut butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup applesauce
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup almond milk
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder

Icing Ingredients:
2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
(you can add 1-2 TBS almond milk if it feels too thick, I can’t stand runny icing so mine is usually a bit on the thicker side).

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare pan (either spray or grease it up and flour it).
In a microwave-safe bowl, melt butter and peanut butter (it took my microwave about 30 seconds, it’s crazy powerful though). You basically want the peanut butter on the soft side and the butter melted.
In a medium bowl, mix together flour, baking powder and soda, milk and oil. Add in applesauce and melted peanut butter and butter. Stir with a spoon until the batter is blended, but still a little bit lumpy (kind of what your normal chocolate brownies would be, only these will be more on the sandy side because of the brown sugar and peanut butter combo).
Bake for 20-30 minutes, or until the edges of the brownies become a darker brown and pull away from the edges.

While your brownies are baking, use your hand mixer and blend powdered sugar, melted butter and vanilla extract in a small bowl until smooth and well blended. Stick in the fridge while you wait.

Once brownies have cooled, spread the icing on and enjoy. And try to share, because you don’t want to eat the WHOLE pan.

Things they forgot to tell you about being pregnant (again)

Let me start off by saying something.

Pregnancy, as a whole, really is this beautiful miracle all the books, movies and mommies blabber about. You don’t really think about how much has to go right for a tiny life to not just be created, but to last 40 long weeks in your body. So what you read below might sound like complaining (probably because some of it is), but this in no way, shape or form means that I’m not incredibly ecstatic and grateful to have a healthy, growing baby inside me. With under three months to go until D-day, the reality of our little baby boy is seriously starting to sink in.

Here’s the thing though.

While I hate to burst all your pregnancy bubbles out there, being pregnant with your second child (and what I can only imagine your third, fourth and fifth feels like) is basically nothing like your first one.

Don’t get me wrong. I realize there are these magical pregnant ladies dotting the world that were just built to house babies and pop them out. They have that beautiful glow, they get cute little bumps and their labors are an hour long. I’m sure that they exist, in fact, I think a lot of women pretend to be a member of this group because there seems to be a really bad stigma in our society about having negative thoughts regarding pregnancy.

Well, you know what, fuck em.

For me, being pregnant with my second child has basically been like my first pregnancy, only on steroids. Not only did I show sooner, gain more and basically eat us out of house and home, there are all these pesky things that hung around from the first pregnancy that make matters way, way worse.

Do you know what people failed to mention about being pregnant the second time? The part where you basically turn into what I imagine a 90-year-old woman feels like. For starters, my boobs, they’ve basically been replaced by these giant, fat and tissue filled, head-sized bean bags that I don’t dare let out of a bra anymore for fear that I’ll step on them. Yep, that’s right, I’m 27 years old and I’ve lost control of my boobs. I have friends that don’t have this problem. They have modest, A and B cups prepregnancy, so when they get knocked up they get the perky porn star boobs.

But me, Miss surpassed DD land after having my daughter, my boobs are, well, the size of my daughter’s head. No seriously, I have proof. I actually caught my daughter running around with one of my bras over her head after doing laundry one day. You can imagine how utterly depressing it is to realize your boob is the size of something you pushed out of your vagina.

And speaking of your vagina, was there a time when it functioned properly? Nowadays I find myself praying I don’t sneeze more than three times because if I do, it’ll be the fifth time I’ve changed my underwear that day because I’ll have peed myself, again.

And don’t even start with me about kegels, those magical exercises you do to squeeze your lady parts and ensure that your vagina doesn’t just become a pit that babies and bodily fluids just fall out of (although, at this point, a baby just falling out of there sounds like a nice break). As someone who followed this exercise regime religiously with my first, I have a hard time believing all that work was simply to give me the power to sneeze TWICE without peeing (but watch out for that third time)! I’m calling a big bluff on that one.

If those few things aren’t bad enough, there’s the people. The one’s who keep asking how you’re doing, waiting for you to say something bad so they can pounce on you, making you feel guilty for not being glowy enough and patting themselves on the back because *they* were far better at being pregnant than you.

I’m sorry to all my non-pregnant mommy friends of one, if I have to hear one more of you tell me how beautiful and perfect your pregnancy was and how you just can’t wait to be all fat and knocked up again, I might pull out all your eyelashes one by one. I’m so, so, so over the moon excited to be having this baby (particularly with some of the issues we faced in the beginning), but please realize you don’t have any idea what being big, ole, chunkified pregnant AND chasing a toddler around is like.

Do you know what it’s like? Picture your first pregnancy: the naps, the amazing food and husband who was at your beckon call to get you whatever crazy thing you were craving, the first flutters in your uterus and all the exciting magic that was ahead of you (your natural labor, your perfect breastfeeding and bonding experience with baby and the 30-minute shred video that would get you back into your prepregnancy jeans in three weeks).

Now, I want you to replace those naps with whines for more milk, cleaning up said milk that has spilled, wiping a snotty nose, cleaning pee off the rug after an unsuccessful potty training attempt, eating a Boca burger for the 19th day in a row because you are too exhausted to fix anything else and rather than sending your husband on some mystical food errand you’re just begging him to take your toddler anywhere but here.

And then, just when you start to doze off for five minutes of bliss, you sneeze three times and have to get up and change your underwear.

I realize I’m whining here, I realize I probably sound ungrateful and ranty to most. Forgive me. I’m big, ole third trimester pregnant. While my body gets to go through all of the amazing processes it takes to house a growing child, the rest of my life doesn’t stop for this, the rest of my life that includes a toddler that needs me seemingly more than this unborn child at times, a full-time job which I am so utterly passionate about, a husband and a house that both get neglected more than they should.

So while I know it’s a total miracle what’s happening, one that is worth every tiny issue it might bring, I’m also a lot of other things in addition to pregnant, so forgive me if I shutter when I think about trying to squeeze my ass into prepregnancy jeans at the end of all this.

Five things every pregnant woman needs

Just when I thought this pregnancy couldn’t get any more different than my first with Pearyn, I had to go and crave PANCAKES.

Aside from wanting tartar sauce on anything and everything (thank heavens for vegan mayo and sweet relish), I haven’t really been attacked by too many oddball cravings with this little guy. 

But lately, if anyone even mentions breakfast, pancakes or anything sweet and disc-like, I find myself in a giant puddle of drool, lusting after pancakes. 

Trust me, I’m not one to NOT give into cravings, I just never seem to crave them at the right time. Take Friday night for instance. I was responsible and brushed my teeth, flossed, mouthwashed, did the whole big shebang (a process that takes me a good 10 minutes at least at night now because I was born with utterly soft, terrible, easily decay-able teeth). I got into bed and perused Facebook one more time and sure enough, one of my friends had posted a funny e-card. Something along the lines of «All my friends are posting intense, political rants on Facebook, and I’m over here like ‘Hey, I made pancakes!'» 

Yup folks, that did it. That incredibly funny, little e-card set off the craving heard round the world. Had I not already brushed my teeth, there is no doubt in my mind that I would have gotten my butt out of bed and made myself some pancakes at 11 p.m. 

And then I started thinking, what other things are MUST-haves around the house for us pregnant folk? I don’t know about any other ladies, but this is my top five list of essential pregnancy foods.

No. 1: PANCAKE MIX. I don’t care if it’s a box of cheap, one dollar value pancake mix or some fancy buckwheat, organic blend, just have some sort of pancake mix in the house. Also, having the pancake fixings (like butter and syrup) or whatever else your heart desires, probably wouldn’t hurt. And if you have real, 100% (and probably $11) pure maple syrup, you get bonus points.

No. 2: CANNED PUMPKIN. I might be alone in this one, but I basically start craving pumpkin anything from the middle of August until early December. It doesn’t matter if I’m even pregnant, I want my pumpkin bread, cake, muffins, lattes, pies and ice cream just the same. Last night I wanted to experiment with making Three-ingredient pumpkin ice cream, but because I had no canned pumpkin in the house, this new recipe will have to wait until tomorrow now. 

No. 3: FROZEN MACARONI AND CHEESE. I think we all know I’m talking about the vegan Amy’s variety. If you haven’t given this bad boy a whirl, do yourself a favor and get some NOW. You’ll probably never eat anything again and you might gain 15 pounds, but it’s so good it’s basically worth it. (I’m the Chubby Vegan Mom, remember, not the healthy fit vegan mom).

No. 4: POTATOES. It doesn’t matter if they’re golden, Idaho, instant or french-fried, just make sure there is some sort of starchy deliciousness in your house at all times. I personally like to pair mine with barbecue or tarter sauce, or I’ll load up a microwave baked potato with some vegan sour cream and butter. At any rate, there are very few things more comforting than good old carbohydrates. 

No. 5: BABY CARROTS. Um hello, I’d keep an entire veggie tray with vegan ranch dip in my fridge if there was room. But alas, there is not, so my standby «healthy» snack is usually a bag of baby carrots and some ranch dip. In fact, this may or may not have just trumped my craving for pancakes now. 

I need to stop brushing my teeth so much.

What sorts of cravings have other moms experienced, if any? I have a feeling my little girl is going to be a big fan of corn on the cob and chocolate cake, I can’t say I blame her though!