Fat Free Low Cal Totally Vegan Bacon


Vegan Bacon made from beets is simple and delicious.

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A few weeks ago, I posted an Instagram picture of freshly made vegan beet bacon that I’d adapted from Kate’s coconut bacon recipe. It smelled so good while it was a-cookin’, and I devoured every last bite that very same day on account of it being so very fantastic.

I have never tasted coconut bacon, so I can’t say for sure if this is better. I will say that beet vegan bacon looks more like bacon, is fat free, includes a serving of veggies, and is soy-allergy friendly. 👍 🐷 😊

As the blog world crests its holiday sugar season, you might wonder: Why am I posting this now?  Allow me to explain.

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When I was a kid, we always has Christmas as my Nana’s house in upstate New York. I have happy memories of playing with my cousins in her crazy cool basement, getting all dolled up for mass, picking through my savings to get just the right gift for everyone. Christmas morning went sort of like this: Wake up early, see what Santa brought, get back in bed with whatever books Santa left, have breakfast, play, and then open presents whenever the grownups were ready. Maybe shovel the driveway or something. Pretty typical for the socioeconomic class I grew up in, I’m guessing.

So let’s talk about that breakfast we had. Again, I’m guessing it was pretty typical. Eggs and bacon and lots of bread & butter. I usually only ever ate the bread & butter. I loved the authentic Italian loaves that were a standard in Nana’s house. But about that bacon. Is there still bacon on your family’s holiday table? Do they wave it in your face and talk about what you’re missing out on?

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My folks no longer nag me about what I eat (much), but I’m sure there are a lot of veggie-subsisting folk who are just tired of all the opinions. You know what I’m talkin’ about.

So. This all vegan bacon is for you. Make it Christmas Eve and then break it out the following morning when everyone is loading up their breakfast plates. It’s smokey and salty and with a wonderful jerky-like texture. Pile it on your all on your plate, or save some for lunch. I made avocado-bacon-pineapple sandwiches and they were so fantastic. I mean, avocado + vegan bacon, you can’t go wrong.

Cuddle with the Cat-All-Day Day

Merry Christmas

Jolly Hannukah

Happy Cuddle with the Cat-All-Day Day

Joyus Tidings to Whatever Else You May Celebrate.

Fat Free Low Cal Totally Vegan Bacon


  • 3 medium-large beets (about 1 1/2 lbs)
  • 1/3 cup liquid smoke
  • 1/3 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1 scant tsp salt, plus more for sprinkling
  • 1 1/2 tbsp maple syrup


  1. Slice the beets up nice and thin, about 1/8-1/6 inch thick.
  2. Lay some beets in a single layer on a paper towel. Sprinkle very lightly with some salt. Add two paper towels on top of that. Layer on more beets, paper towels, and salt, until all the beets are gone.
  3. Put a cookie sheet over the beets and place some heavy stuff on the sheet -- large books, a knife block, a bowl of fruit, hand weights....whatever.
  4. Allow to sit for one hour
  5. Preheat the oven to 450.
  6. Remove the beets from their layers and give them an extra pat with paper towel (you can reuse from the layers) to remove excess beads of moisture.
  7. Combine the liquid smoke, the nutritional yeast, the salt, and the maple syrup. Mix well.
  8. Dip the beet slices in the mix and then shake to remove excess. This doesn't take as long as you think it will, I promise.
  9. Lay the beets in a single layer on parchment-lined cookie sheets. Bake for 12 minutes. The edges of the beets should curl in and the centers should get a little wrinkled.
  10. Allow to cool before enjoying.
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Rainbow Kale Salad with Low Fat Lemon Poppy Seed Dressing (vegan!)


a bright kale salad with a creamy low fat vegan poppy seed dressingrainbow kale salad with creamy low fat vegan dressing vegan low fat poppy seed dressing poppy seed dressing recipeThis salad was inspired by my beautiful friend Megan.  She made a version of this and it sounded so good that I just had to re-create it on the blog. But also, this salad kind of reminds me of Megan herself. She’s bright and jaunty. She has unexpected layers….just when you think you know her best, she surprises you with her vibrance. It’s got some of her alma matter colors in it. ECU gold and purple –pineapple and cabbage.

Also, her eyes are super sparkly. That has nothing to do with the salad. It’s just something that you notice when she smiles brightest.

rainbow kale salad with creamy low fat vegan dressing vegan low fat poppy seed dressing poppy seed dressing recipe

She also gives the very best hugs. Some people give weak hugs, but when she hugs you, gosh…..you just feel the love behind it.

Speaking of hugs. With the holidays coming up, you’re gonna be getting lots of hugs from relatives you haven’t seen in a while. You might also be getting lots of cookies and holiday goodies and platefuls of sugar and butter. All that stuff is amazing and good, but ohhhh after a while, it all feels kinda heavy.

So you definitely need this salad in your life right now. You need it in between Nana’s cookies and Uncle Milford’s eggnog punch supreme.  This salad is packed with fruit and veggies and flavor. The only fatty part is this amazing crumbly nut cheese, which you can totally leave off if you’re still full of buttery potatoes.

rainbow kale salad with creamy low fat vegan dressing vegan low fat poppy seed dressing poppy seed dressing recipe

But if you don’t want to leave if off, let me tell you little bit about it. It’s crumbly but can be pressed into cubes if you want. It’s kinda like feta, which is what Megan put on the original salad. It’s super easy so make. Just soak some pecans in water for about an hour, then drain with blend them into  crumble with some nutritional yeast.

I think my favorite part of this salad is the dressing.  A dressing can make or break a salad, don’t you think? This is so so so creamy. The secret is canellini beans. Just open up a can and drain them. Soak those babies until they don’t taste like anything at all. Cream them in a blender with lemon and garlic and a little drizzle of maple syrup. And the poppy seeds, of course.

And don’t worry about getting them in your teeth. There will be plenty of relatives (or snarky friends 💜 ) there to tell you all about it.

rainbow kale salad with creamy low fat vegan dressing vegan low fat poppy seed dressing poppy seed dressing recipe


Rainbow Kale Salad with Low Fat Lemon Poppy Seed Dressing (vegan!)

Yield: 2 main, 4 side

I made a rich and crumbly nut cheese to imitate feta. It can be easily pressed into cubes with your fingers, or left crumbly.


    for the pecan cheese
  • 1 3/4 cup pecans
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 1/2 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1/2-3/4 tsp salt (to taste)
  • for the dressing
  • 1 can of low sodium or organic cannellini beans
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp crushed or microplane grated garlic
  • 1 tbsp poppy seeds
  • salt to taste
  • salad
  • 6 cups of medium-packed kale
  • 2 cups cups shredded purple cabbage
  • 1 cup sliced or chunked pineapple
  • 1 grapefruit, peeled and sliced
  • handful of toasted corn (corn nuts)
  • handful of dried cranberries


    for the nut cheese
  1. Soak nuts in water for 1 hour. Drain well. Toss into a blender until crumbly, add nutritional yeast and salt. Use your fingers to press the crumbles into cubes, if desired.
  2. for the dressing
  3. Drain and rinse the beans. Soak in water for 5-10 min. Drain, rinse, and soak 5-10 min again. Rinse again. Taste. If they are totally bland, you are ready to go. If not, repeat until they are bland.
  4. Blend beans, lemon juice, maple syrup, and garlic in a food processor till smooth.
  5. Stir in poppy seeds and salt.
  6. for the salad
  7. Wilt the kale in the microwave for 3 minutes.
  8. Toss kale with cabbage, pineapple, grapefruit, corn nuts, cranberries, and nut cheese.
  9. Serve with love and drizzle with dressing as desired.
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Gluten Free Vegan Penguin Brookies


These adorable penguin brookies are gluten free and vegan.

Gluten Free Vegan Penguin Brookies penguin cookies brookie gluten free vegan cookie cute cookie penguin cute

As I went to write this post, I was suddenly curious about the history of the brookie. I’d certainly never heard of them until the dawn of Pinterest. My mom made cookies often, and brownies less so, but never together.  Were they a classic when you were growing up?

As a former history major, I certainly know the steps involving a full-blown brookie investigation. It takes more than just a Google, and I’m not that curious.  One thing is certain, the brookie takes many forms. Bars, pies, cake pops probably.   So I’m here to present my own version: the gluten free, vegan, totally adorable penguin brookie.

Gluten Free Vegan Penguin Brookies penguin cookies brookie gluten free vegan cookie cute cookie penguin cute

Speaking of adorable, do you have trouble eating “cute” foods?  I kinda do. Like when I get a chocolate bunny or something, I bite its head off first so it doesn’t know I’m eating it.  That’s not crazy, right? Anyways, that’s what I had to do with these. Eat the head first.

But still eat, because they were so good. I mean. Brownie + sugar cookie = holiday cheer!!!!

Gluten Free Vegan Penguin Brookies penguin cookies brookie gluten free vegan cookie cute cookie penguin cute

Especially for an indecisive person such as myself. I both love and hate a generous array of holiday cookies. My grandma would often make over a dozen different kind of cookies — in her later years. I’m told she would make twice that when she was younger. As much as I loved every last variety, it was so hard for me to choose. So I would choose them all and then end up with a bellyache.  Cookies were easy to sneak because they were kept in various tins the the chilly garage.

For these treats, you don’t have to choose. Isn’t that kind of the point of a brookie? They are an utter boon to the indecisive American.

They are also a boon to the frosting-fighter. You know, those folks who have lofty dreams of intricately designed  cookies, but end up with a melted mess. That’s me.  For this, you need to paint two dots and a triangle. If I can do it, you can do it. And free-form the scarf.  And to shape this, all you need is a three tier snowman cookie cutter.


See? the bottom part of the cookie cutter makes the outer part (the dark brownie) and the top part of the cookie cutter makes the inner white part (sugar cookie). Easy easy easy.

Even these are totally simple, there are some steps involved….but don’t be intimidated! You don’t have to do the steps all at once. The sugar cookie dough has to be chilled before cutting, and the brookie dough has to be chilled after cutting, and you can decorate them any time you like. Just take it fifteen minutes at a time here and there. So even if you’re busy, you totally have time to bake up these wintery little cuties.  🐧🐧🐧🐧🐧🐧🐧🐧🐧🐧🐧🐧🐧🐧🐧🐧🐧🐧🐧🐧🐧🐧🐧

Gluten Free Vegan Penguin Brookies penguin cookies brookie gluten free vegan cookie cute cookie penguin cute


Gluten-Free Vegan Penguin Brookies

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Yield: 24

I always recommend sifting gluten-free flour prior to using. I like Bob's Red Mill Cup-to-Cup in the blue bag (not sponsored). For this recipe, it's okay to sift lightly.


    for the brownie
  • 1/3 cup vegan chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 2 flax eggs
  • 3 tbsp coconut oil, solid
  • 1 tbsp espresso powder (optional)
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 cups sifted GF flour
  • for the sugar cookie
  • 2 flax eggs
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp coconut oil, melted
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 1/3 cups flour, plus more for dusting
  • decoration
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tbsp corn syrup
  • 1 tbsp water
  • sprinkles


    for the sugar cookie
  1. Combine the flax eggs, the vanilla, the coconut oil, the salt, and the sugar.
  2. Add the baking powder and the flour.
  3. Pat into ball, cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least 2 hours
  4. for the brownie
  5. Place the chocolate chips, the coconut oil, the maple syrup, the flax eggs and the brown sugar in a double boiler over medium heat. Stir constantly until chocolate is fully melted and a dark, even consistency is reached. It will appear watery.
  6. Turn off the heat but do not remove from heat source.
  7. Stir in the espresso powder, the salt, and the baking powder.
  8. Gradually stir in the flour. The dough will be firm and shiny.
  9. Immediately turn the dough out onto a parchment-covered surface.
  10. Place another layer of parchment over top of the dough and roll it to just under 1/4 inch thick.
  11. Use the bottom two "balls" of a snowman cookie cutter to cut out the dark part of the penguin.
  12. Collect scraps and re-roll and cut as needed. You should end up with 24 pieces.
  13. Place the brownie penguin cut outs in the freezer.
  14. back to the sugar cookie
  15. Dust some parchment with flour.
  16. Place the dough over the flour and cover with more flour and a second piece of parchment.
  17. Roll the dough out to just over 1/6th of an inch.
  18. Use the top two "balls" of a snowman cookie cutter to cut out the sugar cookie part of the penguin.
  19. Re-roll scraps and cut as needed. You might end up with a little extra dough (more than 24)
  20. Preheat the oven to 300. Line cookie sheets with parchment.
  21. Remove the brownie parts from the freezer.
  22. Quickly assemble by placing the sugar cookie over the brownie.
  23. Bake at 300 for 10 minutes.
  24. Gently slide the parchment off the cookie sheet and allow brookies to cool completely before touching.
  25. to decorate
  26. Place the chocolate chips in a zip-seal baggie.Immerse in warm water until fully melted.
  27. Cut a small bit off the corner of the bag and carefully dot on the eyes and beaks. Allow to harden -- it won't take long.
  28. Combine the powdered sugar, the corn syrup, and the water. Use small paintbrush (or pipe with a second baggie) to paint on an icing scarf. Immediately add the sprinkles over the icing, shaking off excess.
  29. Serve with love.
  30. These keep best in the freezer, wrapped up. They taste fine cold, but I liked them best warmed up just a tad in the microwave.
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Patterned Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake Roll (gluten free & vegan)


aka Four Thieves Gone cake

Patterned cake rolls are fun any time of year, but are especially welcome at the holiday table. This one is filled with creamy chocolate peanut butter frosting.  Gluten-free and vegan.  

gluten free vegan cake roll patterned cake roll chocolate peanut butter cake roll avett cake how to patterned cake roll four thieves gone cake

A few weeks ago, I found myself at a rare but happy juncture: all my short-term projects were complete, and I didn’t have to start any new ones just yet. I knew exactly what I wanted to unexpected bounty of time: I wanted to tackle the patterned cake roll. A task that requires focus and precision, careful planning, strict attention.  All qualities that I’m no good at.

My faults are many, but there are some that stand out among others. I’m spacey. My mind wanders and rambles. I get overwhelmed and lost in details of planning. I’d like to say that I’m constantly working to liberate myself of these shortcomings, but that would be a lie. Life is messy for everyone, and sometimes I’m so busy that I forget that I want to be better.

gluten free vegan cake roll patterned cake roll chocolate peanut butter cake roll avett cake how to patterned cake roll four thieves gone cake

The classic method of self-improvement is practice. If you’re a slow runner, you do sprints. If you’re a clumsy dancer, you stretch and repeat steps until you find grace. When you’re unfocused, you practice precision.  And since I love to bake, I chose to practice precision through cake.

To make a pattered roll cake, you must first select your pattern. You can choose anything you like, hearts or Christmas trees or cats. I picked the album cover of one of my most beloved records of all time, Four Thieves Gone, by The Avett Brothers. They’ve been my favorite band for over a decade, and have affected my life in an ineffable way. But I’m getting distracted. Let’s talk about cake some more.

gluten free vegan cake roll patterned cake roll chocolate peanut butter cake roll avett cake how to patterned cake roll four thieves gone cake

Once you’ve picked out & prepared the pattern (details in and below the recipe), it’s time to start piping. You whip up a stiff batter and scoop it into plastic zip-seal bag. Cut an infinitesimal corner off the bag. Don’t use a frosting tip — even that will be too large. Make a few practice doodles and then start piping over the prepared pattern. Take your time, catching as many lines and curves as you can. Take breaks when you get tired, don’t rush. You can even make the pattern one day and then bake the following day. Once the pattern is complete, freeze it to prevent warping. Then whip up the cake batter and carefully pour it over the frozen pattern.

Once the cake is baked and cooled, you can frost it. Even though I’m not a big frosting girl, I feel in love with the gooey middle of this cake. It’s creamy and dark, with none of the grittiness that is present in buttercream. Gently roll up the cake.

To serve, pour a big glass of milk and cut the cake with a serrated knife. Share it with someone who loves you, flaws and all.

gluten free vegan cake roll patterned cake roll chocolate peanut butter cake roll avett cake how to patterned cake roll four thieves gone cake

Pattern printout is below the recipe. You will need to print out three pattern pieces. I’ve also included patterns from other albums, as well as instructions on how to make your own pattern

Patterned Chocolate Peanut Butter Roll Cake

I always use Bob's cup-to-cup GF flour and I love it. (not sponsored) If you are familiar with my blog, you know that I'm a stickler for sifting gluten-free flour. Sift while you measure, not before or after. It always yields better results, so don't skip it. For this recipe, I recommend sifting three times. This will avoid a gummy cake texture.

This recipe calls for bananas. Traditionally, bananas used in baking are the over-ripe, super soft kind. For this recipe, you want to do the opposite. Use bananas that are firm and still have a light green tinge.

You will need a10.5 x 15" jelly roll pan


    batter for the pattern outline (dark)
  • 1/4 cup aquafaba*
  • 1/4 cup of vegan butter, like Earth Balance
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup of cocoa powder
  • batter to fill in the pattern outline (white)
  • Copy outline batter, subbing 1/2 cup flour for the 1/2 cup of cocoa powder
  • for the cake
  • 2 flax eggs**
  • 1 cup of mashed banana, from firm bananas (about 2 of them)
  • 2 tbsp vanilla or spiced rum
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 3/4 cups very well sifted gluten free flour
  • 3/4 cup almond milk
  • creamy frosting
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 3/4 cup peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup coconut milkfat***
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup almond milk
  • 1/2 tsp salt


    for the pattern
  1. Mix the batters for the pattern outline and pattern filling. Scoop both into little zip-seal bags and cut an infinitesimal bit of the corner off the bag. It's essential that your cut is super tiny so that you can get as much detail out of the pattern as possible..
  2. Place a strip of parchment over your pattern printout and loosely affix with tape.It also helps to place it on a piece of cardboard for stability (like from a cut-up cereal box). Carefully pipe out the pattern outline with the darker batter. Place the parchment strip in the freezer until the batter hardens.
  3. Repeat with the other two pattern strips.
  4. Once the outline is hardened, pipe the fill-in pattern batter over the top, and then allow to freeze again. Leave in freezer until baking time
  5. for the cake
  6. Preheat oven to 350
  7. Combine the flax eggs, the bananas, the vanilla, the cinnamon, the salt, and the sugar, until well blended and smooth.
  8. Add the almond milk and blend again.
  9. Add the flour and the baking powder and blend again till smooth. Do not over blend
  10. Remove the pattern pieces from the freezer and line them, batter side up, in the jelly roll pan. Add plain parchment to line the rest of the pan. Tip: rubbing the pan with coconut oil will help the pieces stick and stay flat
  11. Carefully pour the batter into the pan
  12. Bake at 350 for 20-22 min.
  13. Remove from oven and immediately flip out onto a flat surface. (pattern side is facing up) Peel away the parchment. Once it cools some, move it to a wire rack to cool the rest of the way.
  14. For the icing
  15. Combine coconut milkfat, peanut butter, and salt till smooth. Add the almond milk.
  16. Add the powdered sugar and the cocoa powder in a little bit at a time. Combine till smooth.
  17. to assemble
  18. Lay a piece of parchment or wax paper down on your work surface. Carefully turn the cake back over (so that the pattern is face down) onto the paper.
  19. Spread the icing all over. Tip- if the edges are super crusty, slice them off for easier rolling.
  20. Using the paper to help you lift the corners, gently begin to roll the cake up. Make sure that you start rolling at the blank, non-patterned end.
  21. Once it's rolled up, you can either serve it right away or wait for it to chill. If you wait for it to chill, the roll will hold better.
  22. Serve with love.


* aquafaba is the leftover liquid from canned chickpeas. If you are not a vegan, you may use an egg white, should it be more convenient.

**One flax egg = 3 tbsp water+1tbsp flax meal

***coconut milkfat is the creamy solid from a can of coconut milk. Chill the can for a few hours, allowing the fat to separate from the water. Scoop the fat cleanly off the top.

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pattern printouts 

I made the pattern printout in Photoshop. If you don’t want to use the Four Thieves Gone pattern or any of the other albums listed above, you can create your own pattern. Here’s how:

  1. Create a new file in Photoshop. (File – New) It should be 1050 pixels wide and 325 high. This will make it the width to fit in a jelly roll pan
  2. Pick an image that you want to turn into a pattern and open it in Photoshop. If can be square or rectangular. Crop or scale it down to 325 pixels high. You can also desturate it if you wish. clover3
  3. Click control+A followed by control+C to select the photo
  4. Paste your photo into your blank canvas as many times as it will fit. clover4
  5. Then flip the image so that it’s backwards. This ensures that it will be forwards on the cake (image…image rotation…horizontal flip) clover5

And then print it out and you’re ready to go! 🙂


Vegan Gluten Free Party Snacks: A Chive and Tahini Mini Twist

Gluten free + vegan mini braids make a fun and tasty finger food for any holiday party.

gluten free vegan twists appetizer twists chive twists braids

Tis the season for holiday gatherings.  The time of year that brings strangers and friends into a glowing living room, rife with Crock-pots and appetizers.  There are different kinds of party people – the social butterflies, dosing each guest with stories and laughter. There are the awkward significant others, gripping their wine glasses till they feel lubed up enough to make pleasant conversation. There are the pet-and-child people, those tho prefer to spend their time on the floor, playing with the kiddos in lieu of discussing dreary affairs with real grown-ups. The list of party-types goes on.    What type are you?

vegan gluten free party snacks

No matter what kind of party-goer you are, I feel like there is one unifying element among them all. THE FOOD. Everyone loves the food. My favorite used to be puff-pastry goodies. Spinach pockets and nutty chocolate tarts and cheesy pepper straws.

A few weeks ago, I spotted a bundle of gorgeous Nera chives in the produce section at the Kroger. I threw then in my basket, along with a package of pizza dough mix that was on sale.  I had no real plans for either one, but by the time I got home, I knew exactly what I wanted to do with them. Straws.




Even though these little guys look fancy, they are super easy to make. Chop up the chives blend them up with some tahini and lemon juice. The tahini really gives them a cheesy quality, just like with traditional party straws. Take the chive-tahini paste and spread it onto some dough circles.  Then braid up the pastry bits (method shown below) and bake them up. Serve them warm or room temp, with some wine and friends and love.

vegan gluten free party snacks


Chive and Tahini Mini Twists

Prep Time: 25 minutes

Cook Time: 18 minutes

Yield: 24

Serving Size: 1 twist


  • 1 ball of vegan GF pizza dough, approx 2 lbs (recipe below)
  • 1 1/2 cups of finely chopped Nira chives
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp tahini
  • 1.5 tsp salt, or to taste
  • olive oil
  • gf flour for dusting
  • sesame seeds, optional


  1. Combine the chives, lemon juice, tahini, and salt in a blender. You should end up with a thick, green paste that is slightly coarse. Taste and add more salt as needed. Set aside.
  2. Roll out the prepared pizza dough to 1/6 inch. Dust with flour
  3. Using a 3 1/2 inch biscuit cutter (or large can) cut out circles of dough. Re-roll and cut as needed. You should end up with about 24 rounds.
  4. Preheat oven to 425
  5. Spread a layer of chive-tahini paste over each circle.
  6. Roll up each circle tight, like a burrito. Cut each roll in half lengthwise. Twist each half back together, around each other. See photo for better description
  7. Place twists on parchment-lined cookie sheet. Brush tops lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with sesame seeds.
  8. Bake for 18 minutes, until golden and toasty.
  9. Serve with love.
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Pizza Dough

  • 1 package of Bob’s GF Pizza dough (not sponsored content)
  • 2 flax eggs (2 tbsp flax meal plus 6 tbsp water)
  • 2 tbsp melted coconut oil
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • yeast packet that comes with the dough
  • 2 tsp baking soda

Prepare dough according to package directions, substituting the flax eggs for the regular eggs, and the coconut oil for the olive oil. Add the baking soda and allow to rise per package directions.



Vegan Artichoke Dip (Artichoke Baba Ganoush)

This super easy vegan party dip only has five ingredients.

easy artichoke baba ganoush vegan eggplant dip


This is my final entry in the Friendly Beasts series. Today’s animal is the “dove from rafters high.” This one gave me a little trouble. I originally  envisioned the dove to be a white cranberry and apple fruit leather, perhaps folded up into a origami bird. Turns out that white cranberries are rather hard to find, even when your uncle is the produce manager at a local grocery chain. So I moved onto the idea of a bird nest. Fried noodles are visually closest to a dove’s nest, but I didn’t want to fry something when there are so many Christmas cookies hanging around.  I settled on an easy baba ganoush, nestled with olives, like eggs, with artichoke hearts added for extra festivity.


easy artichoke baba ganoush vegan artichoke dip

“I” said the dove from rafters high/ “I cooed Him to sleep so He would not cry/ We cooed him to sleep, my mate and I/ I” said the dove from rafters high

Baba ganoush, made with roasted eggplants, is one of my favorite dips. I don’t know why I don’t make it more often. It requires less work than almost any other dip. Salsa needs endless chopping, and good guacamole requires a certain degree of precision. But Baba is easy. You salt and roast an eggplant and then chuck it in a blender with a few select ingredients. What you get is a earthy, creamy dip, hearty and slightly smoky.

This recipe makes a huge dish, wonderful for a holiday party. Serve it up hot or room temp, with lots of crunchy chips and veggies.

vegan artichoke dip artichoke baba ganoush

Vegan Artichoke Dip (Artichoke Baba Ganoush)

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 35 minutes


  • A large eggplant, approx 2 lbs
  • 12oz bag of frozen artichoke hearts
  • 2 small garlic cloves
  • 2/3 cup Jubilee olives, with oil*
  • salt and pepper


  1. Get the artichoke hearts out to thaw.
  2. Cut the eggplant lengthwise into quarters. Generously salt the quarters and allow them to sit for about 30 minutes. This will draw out any bitterness.
  3. Preheat oven to 450.
  4. Gently blot the eggplants with a paper towel.
  5. Lightly tent the eggplants with foil and bake for 15 minutes. Score the eggplant flesh, replace the foil tent, and bake for 20 more minutes.
  6. The eggplant flesh should peel right off the skin with no effort. Discard the skin.
  7. Puree the eggplant, the defrosted artichoke hearts, and the garlic cloves.
  8. Add half of the olives with the oil to the puree and blend again.
  9. Salt and pepper to taste.
  10. Place in a serving bowl and top with the remaining olives and oil. Serve with chips or veggies.


* I love olives Jubilee with their decadent olive oil. You may substitute your favorite olive in oil from the deli counter. Don't use canned or jarred olives.

For a lighter version of the dip, omit the olives. Instead, defrost a 10 oz package of chopped spinach. Puree along with the rest of the ingredients. Drizzle in some sriracha.

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Other posts in the Friendly Beasts series:


Creamy Cauliflower Soup with Parsnip Croutons

Creamy vegan cauliflower soup with crispy, mustard-roasted parsnip croutons.

creamy cauliflower soup vegan parsnip croutons

Welcome to the part 3 of the Friendly Beasts blog series. Today’s friendly beast is the “sheep with curly horn.” To reflect our woolly pal, I chose a rough, pebble-headed cauliflower.

Creamy soups are conflictive to my palate. I enjoy their richness, their comforting nature, and their easy preparation. But I also favor foods with many textures, and creamy soups fail here. Don’t get me wrong — I will eat any creamy soup you got, any day.  But I guess I feel far more satisfied after a bowl full of multiple characteristics. To me, a straight up creamy soup is like a dip without a chip. Would you eat guacamole with a spoon?  What is velvetty hummus without a complimenting crunchy carrot?

creamy vegan cauliflower soup

“I,” said the sheep with curly horn/ “I gave Him my wool for His blanket warm/ He wore my coat on Christmas morn/ I,” said the sheep with curly horn

So I had to have a crispy element to the soup. I found out last year that I really like parsnips.  Turns out, their lightly sweet and nutty notes make the perfect crouton. I dressed them up in my favorite stone-ground mustard, Inglehoffer (not sponsored), for an extra kick. And the mustard seeds added another layer of texture.

Quick aside – I promised myself that this winter, I would be more adventuous in my vegetable preparation. Meaning, I wasn’t going to roast everything like I usually do. And these croutons were the first thing I’ve roasted since the weather turned cold. Small changes, people.

The parsip croutons were tasty, but I wanted another element of texture and color.  A sprinkling of grassy microgreens took care of that. I also tried to break up some French endive to use as “spoons” for eating the soup, but that didn’t turn out so well. But I added the endive to a salad later on in the week, for, um…extra texture. And it was good.

creamy cauliflower soup

Creamy Cauliflower Soup with Parsnip Croutons

Yield: 4 starter, 2 main

Croutons and soup have relatively similar cooking times, you can make them simultaneously


  • 1 medium head of cauliflower, chopped (about 20 oz)
  • 3 cups veggie broth
  • 3/4 cup chopped white onion
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp celery seed
  • 1 tbsp finely diced fresh sage
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • handful of kale microgreens
  • croutons
  • 1 pound parsnips, cubed
  • 2 tbsp melted coconut oil
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp stone ground mustard*
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp salt


  1. Place the white onion, the bay leaf, the sage, the garlic, and the celery seed in a medium saucepan. Add just enough broth to cover.
  2. Placed pot, with lid, over medium heat for about 10 minutes, until onions are very soft.
  3. Add the cauliflower and more broth to cover. Replace lid and continue to cook until cauliflower softens, about 12-18 min. Add the remaining broth, if any.
  4. Remove from heat, allow to cool, and the puree. Set aside.
  5. for the croutons
  6. Preheat oven to 450
  7. Combine the coconut oil, lemon juice,mustard, brown sugar, black pepper, and salt.
  8. Toss the parsnips in the mustard mix.
  9. Roast for 10 minutes, stir, and roast for another 8-10 min.
  10. To serve, divide soup among bowls and add croutons. Add a handful of microgreens.


* I love love love Inglehoffer stone ground mustard. Yes, it's vegan. And addicting. And I don't know what the croutons would taste like with other mustards. Inglehoffer isn't paying me to say any of this. I just really like it.

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Other posts in the Friendly Beasts series:


Braised and Pickled Watermelon Raishes

Watermelon radishes are milder and nuttier than he more common cherry belle radish. Once braised and pickled, they made a wonderful salad topper or sandwich layer.

braised and pickled watermelon radishes

Our town farmer’s market is shrinking, winding down for the season.  I’m doing a lot of my produce shopping at the supermarket now, but I can still get all my root veggies locally.  I recently picked up a bounty of watermelon radishes from the Sunbeam Farm stand. I’d never had them before and was so pleased with their mild and slightly nutty taste.  I discovered that I liked them best raw, with a few drops of lemon juice and a flicker of salt.

watermelon radishes

But this is a blog, and I can’t just be like, “hey, y’all, eat these with lemon and salt and that’s my recipe for the day okay byeeee.” So I’m presenting you with this puckery pickled version instead. These watermelon radishes landed in my market bag at just the right time. This is the second post in my Friendly Beasts series. Today we honor the “cow, all white and red.” I originally planned to use regular cherry belle radishes for this, but once I saw the watermelon variety, I was gone. So even though they’re not technically white and red, they’re white and red-ish. White and red rad-ish? Haha redish radish get it? Okay I’ll stop now.


“I,” said the cow, all white and red/ “I gave Him my manger for his bed/ I gave Him my hay to pillow His head/ I” said the cow, all white and red

Once pickled, these radishes became tangy and pungent. They start out a pale pink immediately after pickling and then darken to a deep red.  They’re briny and garlicky, with gentle notes of rosemary. They’ll pepper up even the plainest sandwich. Um, a quick word of warning. They are a little stinky, but I promise the stink does not linger. I chose to braise and pickle as opposed to just pickle because you get the pickles right away, instead of waiting for the brine to set. I also liked the minor hints of olive oil.

These last about 3 weeks (or longer if you have the proper sanitizing equipment), but taste best within the first two weeks.

braised pickled watermelon radishes

Braised and Pickled Watermelon Raishes


  • 1 1/2 lbs watermelon radishes, thinly sliced
  • 3/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/3 cup fresh rosemary
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1/2 tbsp fresh ground black pepper
  • 3 medium garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • olive oil


  1. Get out a wide skillet and let it get warm over medium heat. Add the olive oil in a light layer and let it begin to shimmer.
  2. Add the rosemary and garlic to the pan. Give them a turn or two.
  3. Add the radishes and let them get a little toasty on the bottom. Stir every once in a while, so that all the radishes get a turn at the bottom of the pan. This should take about 10-12 minutes.
  4. Add the pepper and the liquids. Lower heat just a tad and cover.
  5. Continue to cook until radishes are soft but not mushy, about 15-20 min.
  6. Stir in the salt and remove from heat.
  7. Enjoy right away, or serve as a piquant side on your next family meal. Taste wonderful on sandwiches, salads, or eaten, all drippy over the sink.
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lightly adapted from here


Chocolate Stuffed Gingerbread

Soft gingerbread cookies stuffed with a dark chocolate fudge. Gluten free and vegan.

soft gingerbread chocolate stuffed gingerbread vegan gingerbread gluten free gingerbread

Isn’t holiday baking just wonderful?!  The house brimming with sweet and spicy scents. Poring over Christmas lists to decide which cookie to send to which friend. Licking the fringes of dough from the mixing spoon.

These cookies were inspired by the carol of The Friendly Beasts. It’s the start of a four-part mini series, each recipe  dedicated to a different beast in the song. There is a Tomie DePaula book based on the carol. My mother says I recited the book for my family when I was little, but I have no such memory. The tune has its roots in 13th century France, and has many versions — English and French and Latin and German. My favorite is the one by Sufjan Stevens.

soft gingerbread cookies chocolate stuffed gingerbread vegan gingerbread vegan ginergread

“I”, said the donkey, shaggy and brown/ “I carried His mother uphill and down/ I carried her safely to Bethlehem town/ I” said the donkey, shaggy and brown.

I’ve called these cookies “shaggybrowns” after that donkey. They are a bit raggedy and coarse in appearance, but are hearty and spicy and comforting. And who doesn’t enjoy chocolate-stuffed cookies? My little 8 year old niece loved them, and my she’ll-kill-me-if-I-tell-you-how-old-she-is mother loved them, and everyone in between did too.

soft gingerbread cookies chocolate stuffed gingerbread gluten free gingerbread vegan gingerbread

The cookie base is a little less sweet and spicy than traditional gingerbread. I didn’t want the sweetness or pungency of the cookie overwhelm the wonderful fudge filling. This version has no ground cloves or allspice, and less molasses than usual. I also swapped out the butter for unsweetened applesauce. The dough will be rather sticky but still manageable. Just make sure you chill the dough and dust it before rolling.

They bake up all puffy and chewy. They stay chubby as they cool, which makes it easy to slice and stuff them. As I mentioned in some earlier posts, I’ve recently taken to a lazy-but-efficient way of melting chocolate. Simply fill a thick freezer bag with chocolate +maple syrup and immerse in hot water till melted. Snip off the a corner of the bag to pipe the chocolate onto the cookies. I wouldn’t try this method with chocolate that I wanted to look shiny and tempered, but it works very well here.

I added these to the list of must-makes at holiday time, and I hope you will too.

soft gingerbread cookies chocolate stuffed gingerbread cookies gluten free gingerbread vegan gingerbread


On Thursday, I’ll be posting the next part in the series, “the cow all white and red.” Don’t worry, it’s not beef!!

Chocolate Fudge Stuffed Gingerbread

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 9 minutes

Yield: approx 45 cookies

I like to use Bob's Red Mill cup-to-cup GF flour (not sponsored). But I have found over many trials, that even the finest GF flour needs to be very well sifted in order to yield the best results. I like to sift at least twice. So take your time sifting, and you will be rewarded.

Oh...I forgot to tell you! This is a one-bowl kinda thing. Isn't that the best? Less dishes, hurrah!


  • 3 cups of very well sifted gluten free flour (just under 12 oz)
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 tbsp ginger
  • 1 tbsp vanilla or rum
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • more flour, for dusting
  • filling
  • 2 cups of chocolate chips
  • 2/3 cup maple syrup


  1. Combine brown sugar, molasses, applesauce, ginger, vanilla/rum, cinnamon, salt, and baking powder. Stir.
  2. Gradually add the flour to the molasses mix and stir till combined. Dough will be sticky.
  3. Cover dough with plastic and allow to chill for at least two hours.
  4. After dough is chilled, preheat oven to 350.
  5. Roll some parchment paper out on the counter or table, and dust it with flour.
  6. Place the dough on your prepared surface, add more flour to the top of the dough, and a second piece of parchment. Roll dough out to 1/4 inch thickness.
  7. Use a biscuit cutter (about 2.5 inches) to cut out the cookies. Re-roll and cut as needed.
  8. Place the cookies on the baking sheet. You can crowd them (they can even be touching), as they won't spread a single inch.
  9. Bake for 9 minutes, or just under. They will have puffed up wonderfully.
  10. Allow cookies to cool and then gently slice each cookie in half.
  11. Put the chocolate chips and maple syrup in a big plastic freezer bag. Let them melt, but not too drizzly. You want the chocolate to be stiff enough to pipe without melting all over the place.
  12. Pipe just under a tablespoon of chocolate onto each bottom cookie half. Top with other cookie half.
  13. Serve and enjoy! Store in an airtight container for up to a week, but are best within the first three days. These freeze very well.
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cookie base adapted + modified from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe


Garlicky Millet Cakes with Sweet Potato Adobo Sauce and Peas

These rustic millet cakes are warm and filling. Paired with sweet peas and a rich and spicy sauce, they make a wonderful winter meal.

easy millet cakes garlicky millet cakes

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving. I cooked of course, but I also goofed around with my nieces and nephews and relaxed a lot.   I was really nervous that the T-word was gonna come up (the one that rhymes with chump), but nobody even mentioned it.  😌

Now that Thanksgiving is over, I can start in on the Christmasy goodies. I’m so happy to start it out with this humble dish. It’s homey and warm, just like the holidays should be. Comforting.

At the outset, the simplicity of this dish is deceiving. But the flavors and textures at play here are not to be undermined. The cakes are flaky and crispy on the outside, and fluffy and soft on the inside. And the sauce. It’s hearty but not cloyingly so, with a spiciness that compliments the gentle notes of the millet cakes. The sweet little peas are nestled in all of it, like bright little Christmas balls.

Easy Millet Cakes Garlicky Millet Cakes

You start out with making millet porridge. Literally just water and millet, like you were making oatmeal or polenta. When the porridge gets big and fluffy, pour it into a baking dish to set. Pour some nice olive oil on a cookie sheet and let the oven get good and hot. Then cut out the cakes with a biscuit cutter and bake them up all warm and crispy. The sauce is a breeze, three ingredients and very little work. Spoon it into a bowl with the golden cakes and sprinkle a generous hand of peas over top.  Serve it with a nice jammy red wine, and plenty of love.

easy millet cakes garlicky millet cakes

P.S. On Monday I’m starting a 4 part mini-blog series that I’m kind of excited about. Be sure to swing by and check it out!

Garlicky Millet Cakes with Sweet Potato Adobo Sauce and Peas

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Yield: 2 main or 4 side


  • 1 cup millet
  • 4 cups water
  • hefty pinch of salt, plus more to taste
  • 2 medium cloves of microplane grated garlic
  • fresh ground black pepper
  • good quality olive oil
  • 2 cups frozen peas
  • 3/4 cup cooked sweet potato
  • 2 cups crushed tomato
  • 1 1/2 tbsp canned adobo pepper


  1. Pour the millet in a big flat pan set over medium heat. Shake the pan back and forth over the burner so that the millet gets a little dark and toasty, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the millet to a big pot along with the water and salt. Cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to low. Stir very occasionally. Continue to cook for 25 minutes. If water is not absorbed at the end of cooking, raise the heat and stir until the porridge is good and thick, and all water is gone.
  3. Add the pepper and the garlic to the millet.
  4. Pour millet into a large baking pan. Spread it out so that it's 3/4 inch thick. Allow to cool completely.
  5. Preheat oven to 450. Pour a nice layer of olive oil over a foil-lined baking sheet.
  6. Using a round cookie cutter or biscuit cutter (approx 2.5 inch diameter), cut out millet cakes. You should get about 16-18.
  7. Place the cakes on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes, flip, and then bake for 10 more minutes.
  8. While the cakes are baking, make the sauce. Use a food processor to blend up the crushed tomatoes, the adobo pepper, and the sweet potato. Move the sauce to a pan and heat, adding salt if needed.
  9. Defrost the peas.
  10. Divide the sauce, the peas, and the cakes among plates. Serve.
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