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Chicago Recap (part 2)

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Welcome to part two of my Chicago trip recap! PLEASE read part 1 of the trip HERE before continuing so you get the whole trip lowdown!

Okay so Chi-town part 2…

Saturday: 

**Today was the day that my friend Emily and I didn’t eat “real” (healthy) food for 24 hours. Because we’re almost adults and we can eat what we want!

I woke up and worked out in the hotel gym, then Emily and I sauntered over to Do-Rite Donuts to find- you guessed it- donuts! I got their only vegan donutlemon, and it was better than I expected! It was a baked donut, so it tasted like lemon cake. Yum. Emily got a vanilla bean glazed donut and a gluten free cinnamon donut.

We worked off our donuts afterwards by walking to the Maggie Daley Children’s Park, where we climbed up towers and slid down slides like the five year olds we are at heart.

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After that excursion, we ambled along the shoreline to Navy Pier, where we people-watched and enjoyed Ben & Jerry’s from the scoop shop. I got their VEGAN flavor, Peanut Butter & Cookies! It was to-die-for.

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Happy because of vegan ice cream!!

After that excursion, we walked back to Millenium Park and Emily saw “the bean” for the first time, a Chicago landmark and mirrored statue in the shape of a bean.

After we finished being touristy, we decided to shop some more and get a snack. I tried matcha iced tea for the first time at Argo Tea, which was quite refreshing.

Then we found dinner at a pizza place called Bar Toma that Emily heard was good. I asked if they had vegan options, and they said they could make their pizzas vegan by omitting the cheese on top. We split a small spinach & garlic pizza, but got half of it with cooked brussels sprout shavings instead of cheese for me.

IMG_2656The pizza was basically crust, a lemon zest/ garlic/ oil sauce, spinach, and brussels sprouts/ cheese. It was okay- it needed a lot more sauce. It was just what I needed at the time though, since before dinner I’d only eaten sweets the entire day. I literally hadn’t eaten a “healthy” meal since dinner the night before, which is a record for me! 

After dinner, we walked back to our hotel and collapsed into bed. We walked a lot throughout the day- like 12 or more miles!

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One of the attractions we walked past was the beautiful Chicago river!

Sunday:

Sunday was the day I was most looking forward to throughout the trip, and it did not disappoint. I started the day with a workout, and then we walked over to Meli Café for brunch. I chose Meli because it had a full-page vegan menu, as well as many non-vegan items for Emily. I decided on the carrot coconut pancakes, which turned out to be fluffy, fresh, and cinnamon-y cakes of delight.

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Emily got the Eggs, Toast, & Potatoes breakfast, which was toast, two (“really good,” according to her) scrambled eggs, and baby red potatoes.

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No one ever sees the AFTERmath of the meal! I felt so accomplished and SO FULL after eating all the pancakes. 

After breakfast we went to the hotel, packed up our stuff, and went to Lolla. As soon as we got into the festival on Sunday, we high-tailed it to see all the bands below…

  • Låpsley– highlights were “Operator” and “Hurt Me.” She was okay live- there was a lot of technology involved in her performance (like a voice changer) which I didn’t like. Em and I were in the third row for this show which was cool.
  • Oh Wonder (OW), aka the most WONDERful band ever (see what I did there?)- highlights were “Dazzle,” “Without You,” “Landslide,” and “Technicolour Beat…” but I love all of their songs! Can you tell OW is my favorite band? This was my second time seeing them live. While they were amazing as always, I liked the first time I saw them better just because I was closer (third row!) and there was a talkback after the concert. Give them a listen because I love them- plus they are such cute and nice people.

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After this we got food. Em got a lot of ice cream and I got a popsicle for lunch. When in Chicago, right¿?

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  • We stumbled upon the tail end of Marian Hill and I immediately liked them. So good, so soulful, and so much saxophone.😉 Highlight was “I Want You.” I recommend listening to the duo when you’re feeling funky.
  • Years & Years– another band we stumbled upon that I fell in love with. SUCH a fun concert with such great, soulful, poppy music! I recommend listening to “Desire” if you’re feeling upbeat or “Eyes Shut” if you want a slower song.
  • Halsey– I love Halsey’s music, so I loved this concert! She was fabulous live. Highlights include “Castle,” “Hold Me Down,” and “Blue.”
  • AURORA– I first discovered AURORA this winter, and have loved her ethereal, upbeat music ever since. I was so excited that I got to see her live since she lives in Norway. Song highlights include “Running with the Wolves” and “Conquerer.”

Dinner time! Emily got deep dish pizza and I got a SPICY black bean tamale and an apple.

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  • Flume (a famous DJ)- this concert was okay- I wouldn’t call it a true concert though because he (Flume) wasn’t singing! He was just DJ-ing with his computer. I like live music with actual singers much better. The music was fun to dance to, though.
  • Ellie Goulding– aka possibly my favorite concert I went to at Lolla. She was AMAZING LIVE- OMG. I liked her before seeing her thanks to hearing some of her more famous songs on the radio, but now I know more of her songs and LOVE her music and and her (did you know she’s vegan?)! I am proud to share my name with her.😉 Song highlights for Ellie’s concert were “Army,” “Don’t Panic,” and “Aftertaste.”

After Lolla, we walked back to the hotel, ate some food, and went to bed. An overall good day.

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Us right before the Ellie Goulding concert started!

Monday:

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I got the only vegan donut from Stan’s Donuts and it was SO DANG GOOD. It was a yeast-raised ring topped with granulated sugar and it tasted like a Krsipy Kreme Donut. 

Monday morning I worked out (surprise), we packed up, ate donuts from Stan’s Donuts, and drove back up north with Emily’s mom. It was a boring day compared to the others.


I hope you had fun reading my little trip recap! It was strange but fun to be on a trip with no parents- just me and my best friend. Have you ever been to Lollapalooza or a music festival similar to it? Have you been to Chicago? Tell me all about it in the comments if so!

Thanks for reading- it means a lot!

xx Ellie

P.s.- I’ll be back on Friday for some summer snapshots, then on Sunday for a wonderful bread recipe you might have seen on my Instagram story.😉 Yay for sneak peaks!

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Chicago Recap (part 1)

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A few weeks ago I went to a music festival in Chicago called Lollapalooza! My BFF Emily and I spent two days at the festival and two days wandering around downtown Chicago.


Friends and I drove from northern Michigan to Chicago on Wednesday evening, then we spent the night at their house. We stopped at Panera Bread on the way, which surprisingly had a few vegan options! I ordered the Mediterranean salad minus cheese.

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Thursday:

We got up, ate breakfast (I brought pumpkin date scones), got ready, and went to day one of Lollapalooza!

Here’s what Lollapalooza, or Lolla for short, is like: lots of people, and therefore lots of good people-watching. Lots of smoke. Lots of alcohol (which we refrained from). Lots of noise, from people and from instruments. Lots of standing. Lots of food. It’s a festival of plenty.

We had to wait in line for about fifteen minutes to get our bags searched to get into the festival, and in line, we noticed people from all over the U.S., as well as multiple drunk people- and it was only 2 pm.

When we got into the festival, we scurried from one concert to the next. Emily and I saw…

  • Melanie Martinez– highlights were “Dollhouse” and “Cake.” She was great live! It was a wonderful concert with which to open my first festival experience*.I highly recommend listening to her upbeat, spunky music- keep in mind though that she does swear quite a bit.
  • Bastille– highlights were “Good Grief” and “Pompeii” (of course). We were pretty far away, but it was still fun to listen to this British band. They were also great live.

*It rained during the Melanie Martinez concert, then just as we were finally dry at the Bastille concert it POURED. If you go to a festival, be prepared for all weather! Here’s Emily and I right before we were poured upon at Bastille.

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  • Daughter– we didn’t stay too long at this one because even though I like Daughter, their music is pretty slow and not the best to jam out to… which is what we wanted to do. I prefer listening to their music in the winter or while I’m doing something pretty “low key,” like editing pictures.
  • The 1975– highlights were “The Sound,” “Chocolate,” and “She’s American.” The lead singer, Matty, had so much energy and was such a great performer as he was very expressive and good at singing live**! I recommend listening to their music- at any time.

**Oh yeah, we witnessed a random girl peeing in the middle of the crowd during the 1975 concert. She literally just lifted up her dress and started peeing in the grass while everyone around her stepped away from her as quickly as they could. Note to everyone at music festivals- if you have to pee, please either hold it or leave. We don’t want to watch you do your business. K thanks!! Below is the 1975 concert. 

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  • a random DJ, which was fun to dance (specifically dab) to. Do you have a favorite dance move? I love dabbing.
  • J. Cole- we didn’t know any of his songs… but it was basically just swear word after swear word. Haha.
  • Lana Del Ray– like Daughter, this was a slower concert so it wasn’t the best show to end the night on. However, it was fun to sing along to some of her well-known songs such as “Summertime Sadness” and “Young and Beautiful.”

After the festival, we went back to our friends’ house, ate some food (I’m surprised at how hungry I was post-concert), and went to bed.

By the way, the food at the concert was pretty tasty and reasonably priced (for a big city)! Emily and I split the BEST FRIES I’ve ever had in my entire life- (vegan!) Triple Truffle Fries from the Franks ‘n Dawgs food booth. Basically the best $6 ever spent.

I also got a $3 mango popsicle that was very fruity and good. I was super healthy on Thursday (NOT). Heh.

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Friday

We woke up and explored Bucktown, the Chicago neighborhood where our friends live. We stopped in a few shops and ate Miko’s Italian ice, which was quite good. I tried mango and strawberry, and the cold treat was very smooth and fruity.

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Then Emily and I took the “L” train downtown to a hotel since our friends were heading back up north. It started raining, so we spent the rest of the day eating food and wandering around shops (ZARA, Topshop, Sephora, Urban Outfitters, Books-a-Million, Target, etc.). I also squeezed in a workout at the hotel.

We tried Native Foods Café, an entirely VEGAN CHAIN restaurant, for lunch thanks to a recommendation via Instagram. It was so nice to be able to pick whatever I wanted on the menu!!

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Our lunch experience was great. You go up to the counter and order like at fast food restaurants, but our food was delivered to our table unlike at fast food restaurants. The food was kind of expensive ($28 for 2 meals and a dessert to share), but the portions were HUGE and the food was healthy, vegan, and tasty so it was WORTH IT.

I got the Bangkok Curry Bowl because I was curious about the “tofu steak” advertised as being in it. While the tofu in the bowl didn’t end up being much like real steak, the meal was still good. The bowl, which was basically two servings, was full of steamed veggies, kale, brown rice, tofu, and coconut milk red curry.

Emily ordered the Thai Meaitball Bowl, Seitan “meatballs” tossed with mango-lime chili sauce on a bed of quinoa, kale, and other vegetables. Both meals were good, but I think next time I’ll try the soul bowl (fried “chicken” and beans, rice, veggies, ranch, BBQ sauce, and cornbread) or a burger.

For dessert, we split the peanut butter parfait, creamy peanut butter mousse topped with banana bread crumbles and chocolate chips. I have to recreate it because it was so good!

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It cleared up weather-wise right before dinner, so Emily and I decided to walk around downtown to find a good place to eat. Not the best idea. Moral of the story is to figure out where you want to eat beforehand. We walked for more than an HOUR and couldn’t find a restaurant we wanted to eat at, so we finally went back to the hotel and asked the concierge for a restaurant recommendation. We ended up going to the Marq, a somewhat fancy restaurant about a block from our hotel, since we were tired of walking. Service was fast, which was good because we were hungry!

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Emily ordered the Mediterranean salad and I got the Watermelon Farro Salad (minus cheese) because I was curious as to how watermelon would taste in a salad. Answer? Good! The salad was quite refreshing as it consisted of farro, watermelon, corn, edamame, basil, and a sriracha lime vinaigrette. After dinner we went back to the hotel and crawled into bed so we’d be ready for another full day of adventure.


I’ll be back tomorrow morning with part two of my trip! I had to split the post into two parts because I take too many pictures and use too many words.😉

xx Ellie

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Chickpea “Tuna” Bowl

This fresh chickpea “tuna” bowl is one of my favorite summer lunches.

It’s so easy to make, it only takes like five minutes to make, has five ingredients, AND it’s protein-packed. Plus it’s yummy… but it wouldn’t be on the blog if it wasn’t! It’s packed with some of my favorite ingredients: chickpeas, celery, and fresh tomatoes (from work!).

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Believe it or not, tomorrow is my last day working at the hydroponic tomato hut. Say what!? Where did the summer go?

I have mixed feelings about my last day of picking tomatoes. On one hand, it’ll be nice to be done with work for the summer. Plus, I won’t get so dirty ever again- that is, unless I work there again next summer, which IS a possibility.

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Seriously, look at how dirty I get.By the end of my 9 AM to 3 PM shift, I’m covered in dirt, pollen, and tomato flowers!

On the other hand, it means summer is almost over. Which stinks because summer is my absolute favorite season. Also, I won’t be picking any more tomatoes which means I won’t get to bring any more tomatoes home. I’m seriously going to go through fresh tomato withdrawal. Which is why it’s a good thing that the cherry tomatoes from my garden are ready- at least I’ll have those to eat!

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Beautiful purple tomatoes from my family’s little square foot garden. Perfect for snacking!

Other than working at the tomato hut, I babysat a lot this summer. Boy do I have stories to tell about that. One boy I sat for almost shocked his dog to death with a shock collar that his grandmother gave to him to use, and another family I babysit for had to come to my rescue with putting a stop to it while we were out on a walk. By the end of the night, I wanted to cry. Mostly for the poor dog who was probably in a lot of pain. That’s the worst thing that happened though, besides having to babysit six kids by myself multiple times (HARD work). Other than that, babysitting this summer consisted of lots of beach days, trips to the candy & ice cream store, and outside playtime. Fun stuff.

Within the next week I’ll be posting some snapshots from my summer for you! 

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But before then, let’s all enjoy this chickpea “tuna” bowl. Because it’s summer, and it’s nice out so you don’t want to spend a lot of time inside preparing food, and there’s a lot of fresh produce to use.

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Chickpea “Tuna” Bowl

Serves 2

  • 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 Tbsp Vegenaise (or other vegan mayonnaise)
  • 2 celery stalks, washed and sliced into ½ inch pieces
  • 1/4 tsp coarse seasoning salt
  • 2 tomatoes, optional but recommended

Instructions:

  1. Drain and rinse the chickpeas, then add them to a large bowl.
  2. Mix in the Vegenaise.
  3. Smash the chickpea mixture with a fork (so it looks more like tuna).
  4. Chop the celery then add it into the mixture.
  5. Either serve “as is” in bowls or on bread as a sandwich OR add in tomato and serve in bowls. OR you can hollow out the tomato as a bowl and spoon the chickpea mixture into it. YUM.

Happy end-of-summer!

xx Ellie

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Fab Five Friday 8/12/16

Happy Friday!

Can you believe it’s already the weekend? I can’t! I also can’t believe it’s already August and that I’m leaving for my first year of college in a few short weeks (!!!). Where has the summer gone?

This week, I went home for a few days after being “up north” for the entire summer. Now I’m back up north though. I guess I couldn’t stay away.😉 While I was home, I finished a great TV series, went out to breakfast, and did a yoga class for possibly the first time all summer (oops). What were the highlights of your week?

1. VEGAN GRILLED CHEESE

IMG_3220If you don’t follow me on Instagram, you missed my mini freak-out yesterday over having a vegan grilled cheese for the first time EVER. It was also the first grilled cheese I’ve had in like 5 years. It was super creamy and good. 

I put a few handfuls of  vegan mozzarella cheese shreds between two slices of fresh sourdough bread (from a local bakery) and cooked it on a panini maker for a few minutes. Then I added in some greens and a sliced tomato I picked (from the hydroponic tomato greenhouse where I work). Finally, I snapped a picture or five for Instagram and devoured my sandwich of cheesy goodness. 

2. The Vegan Calculator 

This site calculates how many animal lives you’ve saved by being vegan. It determines everything based on the number of months/ years you’ve been vegan. I’m not sure how accurate this calculator is, but it does show that one person makes a difference in conserving the word.

Here are my statistics:

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3. Going out to breakfast, specifically at Bartertown Diner

I went out to breakfast this morning to a local diner with vegan friends (Hi Savy and Emily!!). I ordered the ultimate hash- it came with a mixture of potatoes, veggies, and Nutcase Vegan Meat chorizo covered by a sunny sauce and a side of toast and homemade jam. NOM.

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Do you ever go out to breakfast? Do you have a favorite breakfast food? I love waffles. And french toast. And smoothies. Really, I’m not picky as long as the food is vegan (which is a bit of an oxymoron).

4. Gilmore Girls

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image via Collider.com 

I finally finished all seven seasons of the hit TV series “Gilmore Girls” on Netflix. I started the series last August and finished it a few days ago. I really like it. The plot was a bit unrealistic at times, but that’s okay because it’s funny, lighthearted, and the relationships in it between the different characters are realistic. The series f0llows single mom Lorelai Gilmore and her teenage daughter Rory as Rory grows up in the fictional town of Stars Hollow. I recommend “Gilmore Girls” if you need a new series to watch- just beware of the time commitment! There are 7 seasons, each with 22 forty-five minute long episodes. Now is the time to watch it though as the four episode series wrap-up is coming out November 25 on Netflix.

I need a NEW series to watch now that I’m done with this one!! Any suggestions? 

5. The Summer Olympics

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image via Wikipedia.org

How could this once-every-four-years competition NOT make my list!? I love watching the Olympics, especially the gymnastics and the beach volleyball. It’s amazing to watch how strong some people are!!

So that’s it, folks! Have a fun weekend and make sure to watch the Olympics since another one won’t come around for two more years. I’ll talk to you all soon.🙂

xx Ellie

 

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Rhuberry Muffins

Happy Wednesday! How are you? What are you up to?

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I’m back at my cottage (aka my home for the summer) after a five day trip to Chicago, USA this past week! I went to Lollapalooza, a huge four day music festival in one of the Chicago parks, and it was tiring but fun. :) I was excited because I got to see some of my favorite artists there, as well as discover new rocking artists. My favorite performances were Oh Wonder, Halsey, the 1975, Melanie Martinez, Years & Years, and Ellie Goulding. OH MY GOSH guys I’m obsessed with Ellie Goulding now- she is so great, especially live! Please give her a listen. Oh Wonder too- I love them so so much.

Has anyone else ever been to Lollapalooza (or another music festival)? This was my first music festival, but hopefully I will go to more as I love music!

You know what else I love? Muffins!

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100_8514.jpgThese rhubarb and berry-filled muffins are a great way to use all the fresh produce here, since it’s the end of raspberry and rhubarb season and the beginning of blueberry season.

Believe it or not, this was the first time I’ve ever used rhubarb. I didn’t even TRY rhubarb until this summer, when my grandma made my family and I a rhubarb crumble. It was very tart- way more so than I was expecting! Because of rhubarb’s tartness, I decided to pair it with sweet (but also sometimes tart) raspberries and blueberries in this recipe. It took a few tries to get the right berries-to-flour ratio, but eventually these muffins were perfected!100_8752100_8760I like these muffins because they are fruity, but they have a little zing to them thanks to the fresh ginger and other spices. Give them a try and let me know what you think! Tag me on Instagram @peanutbutterandle or twitter @peanutbuttereli if you make them.

I have much more to share about my time in Chicago- a post will be up later this week about it! Talk soon! Until then, eat muffins.🙂

xx Ellie

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Rhuberry Muffins

(Rhubarb Raspberry Blueberry Muffins)

Makes 12 muffins

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups oat flour (to make: process an overflowing 2 cups of oats in a food processor for a minute, or until it turns into a fine flour)
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 ½ tsp fresh ginger, grated
  • ½ tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup applesauce
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup (or 2 more heaping tablespoons of brown sugar)
  • 1/3 cup chopped rhubarb
  • 1/4 an overflowing cup of blueberries
  • 1/4 an overflowing cup of raspberries

For the crumb topping: mix together 1/4 cup rolled oats and 1 tbsp brown sugar, then sprinkle a handful of topping over each muffin before you put the muffins in the oven.

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Rinse blueberries, raspberries and rhubarb stems.
  3. Peel the outer layer (strings) off of the rhubarb stems, then cut stems it into ½ inch cubes. Now set aside all the fruit.
  4. In a medium-size bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg).
  5. Add in the wet ingredients (vanilla, applesauce, and maple syrup).
  6. Whisk to combine the wet and dry ingredients.
  7. Fold in the fruits.
  8. Line a muffin tin with muffin liners. Scoop batter into tins so they are 3/4 full.
  9. Sprinkle the crumb topping onto the muffins, if desired. I like it because it adds a nice crunch.
  10. Bake the muffins in the oven for about 20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the center of the muffins.
  11. Let cool for a few minutes, then enjoy! They only last for a few days, so eat them quickly! Or freeze them for later.

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Fancy Filled Tomatoes

I love tomatoes. Do you love tomatoes? If so, this recipe is for you!

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It starts with fresh tomatoes, bursting with flavorful juices. These tomatoes are then filled to the brim with a hearty quinoa mixture and topped with an agave-sweetened balsamic dressing. What’s not to love?

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I get my tomatoes from a local greenhouse called TLC. They grow their produce hydroponically, which means plants are grown in mineral solution with water instead of in dirt. My mom and I go to TLC at least once a week, and a few weeks ago my mom found out they needed help harvesting tomatoes.

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So…. guess what?! I’m working in TLC’s hydroponic greenhouse harvesting tomatoes!! I work Monday and Thursday from 9-3 picking beefsteak, orange wellington, and cherry tomatoes. Four other girls and I pick 300+ pounds of tomatoes each time I’m there! Do any of you have a “summer” job?

I get a lot of tomatoes working at TLC, and I’ve mostly just been eating them plain. However, sometimes I’ve been getting fancy with my food and making dishes where tomato is the star ingredient, like in this dish.

Please HMU with tomato recipes though because I have so many tomatoes.

Look at all these ripe tomatoes at TLC. The red ones are beefsteaks and the orange ones are called orange wellingtons- they’re sweeter than most other tomatoes. 

Back to this dish. It’s super fancy, fresh, and yummo… so you should try it. Honestly, why not!? My favorite part of making this dish is scooping out the tomatoes and eating their entrails (guts? Insides? There’s no good word to use). I also like plating the dish. Serve it to someone you’re trying to impress, as it’s easy to make but it looks fancy-schmancy.

Go use ALL the fresh tomatoes and make this quinoa-filled tomato bowl. Then enjoy it.

xx Ellie

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Fancy Filled Tomatoes

Serves 6 (1 serving = 1 filled tomato)

Quinoa Filling (adapted from this recipe)

  • 3/4 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 1 tablespoon oil (I like olive oil)
  • ½ a large onion, sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon ginger, minced
  • a pinch of salt
  • a pinch of pepper
  • 1 and 3/4 cup veggie broth
  • 2-3 tablespoons freshly chopped parsley
  • 1 15 ounce can chickpeas
  1. Soak the quinoa for about 30 minutes.
  2. Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add in the onion and sauté it until it’s brown (about 4 minutes).
  3. Add the garlic, ginger, salt, and pepper to the pan with the onion and sauté for about 30 seconds.
  4. Add in the quinoa, and stir everything around.
  5. Add in the veggie broth and bring the mixture to a boil.
  6. Once the mixture is at a boil, cover it with a lid and let it simmer for about 20 minutes, or until the quinoa is soft and you can’t see broth.
  7. Drain the chickpeas from the can.
  8. Add the chickpeas and parsley to the quinoa mixture. Your filling is complete!

White Balsamic Dressing

  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons agave
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  1. Vigorously whisk all the ingredients together in a small bowl until they’re combined.

To assemble the dish:

  • 6 big tomatoes
  • quinoa filling (recipe above)
  • balsamic dressing (recipe above)
  1. Cut the tops of each tomato off (like in the pictures). With a spoon, scoop out the insides of the tomatoes and discard (by eating them right away or by saving them to put on salads).
  2. Spoon the quinoa filling into the tomato “bowls” and plate them.
  3. Drizzle some balsamic dressing onto the filled tomato bowls.
  4. Garnish your filled tomatoes with more dressing, tomato slices, more fresh parsley and pepper. ENJOY!

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Festive Fourth of July Cake

Hi friends! I meant to post this recipe a few days ago, but I’ve had computer troubles the last week and a half so I’ve been unable to post. Everything is hunky dory now though.🙂

Especially because of this festive American flag-shaped Fourth of July cake. 

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This cake is the perfect “I LOVE THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA” recipe. It’s shaped like a circle, like the shape of the earth as well as like a symbol for inclusiveness (everyone is in the circle + the circle never ends and neither does love). The inside looks like an American flag- it has the blue “stars” layer and the red and white “stripes” layers. It also takes advantage of American produce- fresh, local strawberries that I picked with my own two hands (I’ve got that industrial spirit!) and fresh blueberries. ALSO, it’s cake, and what American doesn’t like sweets!?

Anyway. This cake is pretty festive and fabulous if I do say so myself (a weird phrase). It came about because I wanted to make something special for fourth of July that also took advantage of all the strawberries my mom and I picked at our local strawberry patch.

Enter this cake.

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I found out how to make an American flag cake from Food 52 (here’s the link). The recipe, as well as others I looked up, were not vegan… so I decided to make up my very own vegan version of the fancy flag cake and frosting! I used fresh fruit as coloring instead of food coloring because I think food coloring is gross. What the heck is in it!??! I don’t want those creepy chemicals going into my body!

Strawberries make up the red layer and blueberries make up the blue layer. I used Food 52’s instructions to assemble the cake. Unlike Food 52, I’m including pictures in my recipe as I’m a visual learner so I find pictures extremely helpful.

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I won’t ramble on for too much longer, other than to say that 1) this cake took me a long time to make, but it was worth it for the delight of eating it as well as for the compliments I got on it, and 2) this cake is really good and you should definitely make it for your next patriotic celebration (Labor Day??). Don’t be intimidated by the size- you CAN do it.

I hope you love this cake. My family and I ate it for dessert of dinner on the Fourth and enjoyed it immensely- our favorite layer was the blueberry one. Please let me know if you try this recipe. Send me a picture via email (peanutbutterandle@gmail.com) or tag me in a picture on Instagram so I can see your wonderful creation!

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American Flag Cake

makes 1 HUGE 5-layer cake that serves around 24-32 people

(depending on how large your pieces are- it serves 32 if you cut the cake into 1/4 inch pieces)

*JUST SO YOU KNOW: This cake takes a while to make. Like 3 hours or more. You can always spread the baking and assembling out over the course of 2 days, like I did! The cake stays fresh as long as you wrap it up. I just thought I’d warn you!

For the STRAWBERRY cake

(makes 2 8-inch round layers)

Dry Ingredients:

  • 3 + ½ cups of flour (all-purpose is best)
  • 2 cups of sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Wet Ingredients:

  • 2/3 cup vegetable or canola oil
  • 2 tablespoons vinegar (white)
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup non-dairy milk (I like almond)
  • 1 cup strawberry puree- process an overflowing 1 ½ cups of washed and stemmed berries in the food processor until it’s a liquid puree- it takes about a minute of processing.
  • Feel free to add some red food coloring here to amp up the red color of this cake.

Instructions-

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Measure and whisk together the dry ingredients in a large bowl.
  3. In a separate bowl, measure and whisk together the liquid ingredients EXCEPT the strawberry puree in a medium-sized bowl.
  4. Add the wet ingredients into the bowl with the dry ingredients.
  5. Mix the wet ingredients together until just combined.
  6. Make the strawberry puree, then measure it out and add it into the batter. Whisk it in until the batter is entirely pink!
  7. Oil the bottoms of 2 8-inch cake rounds. Pour batter into the pans until each pan is 3/4 of the way full with batter. Use all the batter!
  8. Bake the cakes for 35-38 minutes, 0r until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the cake.
  9. Let cool.

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For the VANILLA cake 

(makes 2 8-inch round layers)

Dry Ingredients:

  • 3 + ½ cups flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Wet Ingredients:

  • 2/3 cup vegetable/ canola oil
  • 2 tablespoons vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups nondairy milk

Instructions-

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Measure and whisk together the dry ingredients in a large bowl.
  3. In a separate bowl, measure and whisk together the liquid ingredients in a medium-sized bowl.
  4. Add the wet ingredients into the bowl with the dry ingredients.
  5. Mix the wet ingredients together until just combined.
  6. Oil the bottoms of 2 8-inch cake rounds. Pour batter into the pans until each pan is 3/4 of the way full with batter. Use all the batter!
  7. Bake the cakes for 35-38 minutes, 0r until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the cake.
  8. Let cool.

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For the BLUEBERRY Cake

(makes 1 8-inch round)

Wet Ingredients:

  • 1 + 3/4 cups flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt

Dry Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup vegetable/ canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar (white)
  • 1 + ½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • ½ cup nondairy milk
  • ½ cup blueberry puree: process an overflowing 3/4 cup of washed and stemmed blueberries in the food processor until it’s a liquid puree- it takes about a minute of processing.
  • Feel free to add some blue food coloring here to amp up the blue color of this cake.

Instructions-

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Measure and whisk together the dry ingredients in a large bowl.
  3. In a separate bowl, measure and whisk together the liquid ingredients EXCEPT the blueberry puree in a medium-sized bowl.
  4. Add the wet ingredients into the bowl with the dry ingredients.
  5. Mix the wet ingredients together until just combined.
  6. Make the blueberry puree, then measure it out and add it into the batter. Whisk it in until the batter is entirely blue!
  7. Oil the bottom of a 8-inch cake round. Pour batter into the pan until it is 3/4 of the way full with batter. Use all the batter!
  8. Bake the cake for 35-38 minutes, 0r until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the cake.
  9. Let cool.

IMG_1638Buttercream Frosting Recipe

  1. Measure out the vegan butter into a large bowl or a stand mixer (the best option).
  2. Beat the butter until it’s soft and spreadable (medium speed). Use a hand mixer or a stand mixer if you have one.
  3. Add in the powdered sugar, one cup at a time. Stir on low speed until the sugar is incorporated.
  4. The frosting should be clumpy- add in the vanilla and nondairy milk to thin it!
  5. Beat the frosting until it’s a thin and spreadable consistency. Frost the cake(s) with it!

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TO ASSEMBLE THE FULL CAKE (WITH PICTURES):

  1. Cut the dome top off all of the cakes. PLEASE keep them- you’ll need them later! I used a bread knife to do this, and just cut off the uneven top “dome” layer of the cake so the cake would lie flat. Put the dome tops on another plate or something for now.
  2. Place one strawberry round on a big plate (preferably the plate you plan to serve the cake on). This is layer one.
  3. Spoon frosting onto the top of the cake and spread it around until the cake top is covered.
  4. Place one vanilla round on top of the frosted strawberry round. This is layer two.
  5. Frost the top of the vanilla round.
  6. Place the second strawberry round on top of the frosted vanilla round. This is layer three.
  7. Frost the top of the second strawberry round.
  8. Place the second vanilla round on top of the frosted second strawberry round. This is layer four.
  9. Frost the top of the second vanilla round.
  10. Place the flat blueberry round on a separate plate. Using a bowl or another sort of template (about 4 inches in diameter), cut out the center of the blueberry round. Set the center aside (or eat it) as you won’t need it anymore.
  11. On a separate plate, take the strawberry round top “dome” and cut out the center of it with the same template you used on the blueberry round. KEEP the CENTER of the round (what you cut out), and discard the outside ring (or eat it) since you won’t need it anymore. Cut the center round in half, so it is half the height of the blueberry flat round.
  12. Place the O-shaped blueberry round on top of the frosted vanilla fourth-layer round.
  13. Place the baby strawberry round inside the O-shaped blueberry round. Stick it on top of the frosting covering the vanilla fourth layer.
  14. Frost the top of the baby strawberry layer.
  15. On a separate plate, take the vanilla round top “dome” and cut out the center of it with the same template you used on the blueberry and strawberry rounds. KEEP the CENTER of the round (what you cut out), and discard the outside ring (or eat it) since you won’t need it anymore. Cut the center round in half, so it is half the height of the blueberry flat round.
  16. Place the baby vanilla layer on top of the baby strawberry layer inside of the big O-shaped blueberry layer.
  17. Frost the entire cake. Dump frosting on to the top of the cake and frost from there. It doesn’t have to look perfect- mine sure doesn’t!
  18. Top the frosted cake with washed blueberries and strawberries. You can be extra patriotic and put the blueberries and strawberries in the shape of the American flag on top of the cake (with the blueberries as the stars and the strawberries as stripes).
  19. SERVE AND ENJOY YOUR PATRIOTIC CAKE!

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Steps 2-16

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Steps 10-13

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Steps 17-19

I hope you had the best holiday weekend ever!!

I hung out with my friends and family, went to the beach, went swimming, read and relaxed, watched the fireworks, and had a nice dinner with my family. What did you do? And what did you eat?!🙂

xx Ellie

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