A New England city of cobblestone streets – rich in worn brick buildings and unsettled souls. I went to sleep hoping against hopes that I would not encounter the rumored local haunt. About 3 in the morning I was awakened with an eerie feeling I was not alone. There about a foot away from me, a bearded figure in an older period suit began to walk towards the head of the bed, flashing a light back and forth across his path as he approached. The outlets on the nightstand crackled and fizzled. A panicked chill racked my body as every hair stood on end. I thought, “great Scot, this ghost is no tale; he is here.” I closed my eyes in a mix of resolve and disbelief, hoping to ease the fright.
That’s when the bolted hotel room door opened. My eyes flew back open. In walked the front desk clerk on night audit, with a folder in hand. He waved it at me saying, “this one has your name on it and it is due.” I knew the insinuation was more than just the bill. I fled the room, down 9 flights of stairs and tore through the cobblestone streets. The roads were as scrambled as my mind, like tangled shoelace. I couldn’t shake his pursuit.
Suddenly, I opened my eyes in the dark of the hotel room and heard the slip of the receipt being slid under the door of my locked room. The clock read 3:20 AM.
Moving on from story time hour, I know brussel sprout season is wrapping up here, but you must know about this recipe! I’ve fallen in love with roasted brussel sprouts. I hope this recipe does the same for you.
Roasted Brussel Sprouts and Sweet Potato
1 pound sweet potato (roughly 1 large potato), diced into 1 inch pieces
1 pound brussel sprouts, trimmed and large ones halved
2 cloves garlic, minced; or ½ tsp granulated garlic
⅓ cup olive oil
1 tsp cumin
¼ tsp garlic salt
¾ tsp salt
Dash of black pepper
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
Place the prepared sweet potato, brussel sprouts and garlic in a large mixing bowl. Cover the veggies in olive oil and add in the rest of the seasonings. Toss till the veggies are coated in oil and seasonings.
Spread the veggies evenly in the baking sheet. Bake 30-40 minutes until veggies brown a bit and the potatoes are fork tender. Serve them warm.
Do you remember the first time you gazed into a bakery case of sweet treats and made your selection? My oldest son had his first trip to a safe bakery at the age of five. Having a life threatening allergy to tree nuts, baked goods are not something we can just pick up anywhere. His eyes were wide staring with excitement and disbelief as he carefully considered which donut to pick. He still talks about the place in Minnesota where he could get donuts and ice cream right from the store. If you have the chance to stop in at Yoyo Donuts in Minnetonka, Minnesota, you certainly should. If this kind of a trip is not in the cards for you, just fire up your oven, you can make donuts right at home.
Who says you can’t have great donuts without leaving the house? These baked donuts prove the fact that you can enjoy fresh baked donuts right in your own home – so long as you’ve stock your cabinets with the ingredients.
This is a no fuss, quick and easy donut recipe. It has become one of our regular Saturday treats to make these together as a family.
Yields 6 donuts
Tender baked donuts with a hint of cardamom and vanilla. Top these with your favorite donut toppings to dress them up or down for the occassion.
15 minPrep Time
9 minCook Time
24 minTotal Time
1 cup flour (or ⅓ wheat & ⅔ all purpose flour)
1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1 egg, room temperature
⅓ cup brown sugar, packed
¼ cup milk
¼ cup of yogurt
½ tsp cinnamon
⅛ tsp cardamom
⅛ tsp nutmeg
1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
2 Tb butter, melted
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Spray a donut baking pan with nonstick spray and set aside.
Mix dry ingredients (flour through salt) in a medium mixing bowl. Set aside.
In a small bowl, beat the egg, mix in the brown sugar, milk, yogurt, spices and vanilla extract. Add and stir in the butter.
Place all the wet ingredients into the dry mix and mix just until it’s incorporated. Put the mix into a large ziploc bag and cut of a corner to pipe the batter into the prepared donut pan.
Bake in preheated oven for 9-11 minutes.
Allow baked donuts to sit in pan for 2-5 minutes before removing the from the pan to a serving platter.
Top the donuts with frosting or dip in butter and roll through a cinnamon sugar mix.
Best served warm. Save leftovers in airtight container for a couple of days.
While growing up, I remember enjoying fresh produce from the garden. We often exchanged excess produce with the neighbors, who also kept a garden. Outside the garden, in the western part of the yard, there was a patch of hearty rhubarb that popped up every year. I love rhubarb, but for the life of me, I cannot recall any recipes we used it in. Though, I do remember a plethora of uses for the garden zucchini, sweet and savory.
Last summer I started entertaining the thought that rhubarb could be savory. Around the same time, I was trying out lower lactose “alfredo” sauce recipes. This recipe really came together as a result of those interests.
The rhubarb is sautéed with fresh green onions giving it a zippy it’s-summer-and-the-produce-is-rockin’ vibe. The alfredo sauce, basil and mozzarella cheese create a level of comfort. Finally, a bit of tang with crumbled goat cheese to top it all off.
In the time since I posted my last pizza recipe, I have changed my favorite crust recipe. This crust is a bit more tender while still being flavorful, even when adding in some wheat.
Hope you get a chance to give this recipe a try. Be sure to tag MamaSparrow on social media with pictures of your recipe results. Have a great holiday weekend!
Serves 2 slices or 1/4 of a pizza round
Rhubarb Basil White Sauce Pizza
Yields Makes 2 Pizza 12-14 inches round
Sauteed rhubarb and fresh green onions over alfredo sauce and basil. Tangy goat cheese and mozzarella cheese top off this cozy, spring pizza.
42 minPrep Time
18 minCook Time
1 hrTotal Time
New Crust Recipe
1 cup water
1 pack active dry yeast (also ok to use instant, let sit 15-20 mins instead of the 30 - 1 hr)
1 cup flour
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
2 cups flour, divided, I like a mix of wheat and all-purpose
Olive oil or melted butter (optional)
Garlic salt (optional)
Cornmeal dusted on baking pans
1 Tb olive oil
2 cup rhubarb, chopped
6 green onions, finely sliced
16 oz of alfredo sauce*
½ cup fresh basil, chopped
4 ounces goat cheese, sliced or crumbled
3 cups of shredded mozzarella cheese
In a large mixing bowl, combine the water, yeast, 1 cup flour and sugar. Let sit covered 30 minutes to 1 hour if using active dry yeast. For instant yeast, let sit 15 - 20 minutes.
Uncover the bowl and mix in the salt. Add 1 ½ cup cups of flour measuring in 2 Tbs. at a time. Mix. Sprinkle the last ½ cup of flour onto a lightly floured surface and shape the dough into 2 pizza rounds. Bunch the dough around the edges to form crust. Spread dough rounds with olive oil or melted butter and sprinkle with garlic salt, if desired.
Dust baking pans with cornmeal before placing dough on them.
Preheat the oven to 425 degree F.
While the oven warms, start cooking the toppings. Warm the olive oil in a saucepan over medium low heat. Toss in the green onions and warm a couple of minutes. Add the chopped rhubarb to the pan with the onions and warm for another couple of minutes. Pull the pan off the heat and set aside.
Top the crust with the sauce. Evenly spread the onion rhubarb mix over the sauce. Spread the chopped basil for the next layer. Finish the pizzas topping with cheese and garnish with fresh basil leaves.
If eating immediately, bake at 425 degrees F for 10 - 15 minutes until cheese is melted and crust is golden.
Freezing for Later
If freezing for later, set pizza on a cooling rack to allow crust to cool completely. Prepare the pizza for freezing by wrapping in plastic wrap and then a layer of aluminum foil. Mark the wrapped pizza before placing it in the freezer.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Place frozen pizza on baking sheet or foil. Bake 15-25 minutes, until crust browns and cheese is bubbly.
*I used a homemade cauliflower alfredo sauce. http://leelalicious.com/healthier-cauliflower-alfredo-sauce/
It is healthier and has less lactose. The recipe easily converts to a dairy free/vegan sauce.
I was in Missouri for the first time. It was by accident. We were returning from Iowa, driving back into Chicago. There must have been a patch of highway without network connection and the phone maps dropped. My husband and I were in deep conversation and did not notice until he saw the “Welcome to Missouri” road sign. We easily added two hours to that trip.
As we drove back the correct direction, I noticed a scenic area with a river running and rustic homes. I recall a sign for Lost River. I am hoping to look up more information about the place because it was beautiful.
This got me thinking more about perspective. Sometime our destination becomes so important to us that we ignore the meaning in the journey. Tomorrow night is my final presentation for my master’s degree. It is a fantastic destination, reaching this milestone. I would miss out on a lot if I did not recognize the journey that has gotten me here – especially the time spent staying at home with the boys while completing my studies. Time with the little boys is wild, lively, and demands a constant state of remaining in the present. Respecting all of this experience, I cannot find a way to separate the journey of studying, being present with my boys, and completing this degree. My time with the boys has been my lost river – my expected journey.
Back to the reason we were on the road to begin with, we had just visited my in-laws. My other mom is the one who gifted me the adorable bee themed honey pot from the pictures in this post.
The recipe I am sharing with you today is for fry bread. This is a treat that my great-grandmother would make for us, and later my mother. It is a quick bread recipe that finds it’s origins and broad use in Native American cooking. The dough is fried and then covered in sweet or savory toppings. As a child, I usually enjoyed these covered in melted butter and granulated sugar. Recently, I have made them for my family to cover with chili, tacos, or jam and honey. In these pictures, the bread is covered with vegan orange curd and drizzled with honey.
Below is the recipe. The base recipe for these is vegan and can be topped with a variety of vegan sweet and savory options, as well.
Galets – Fry Bread
Yields 8 pieces of bread
Fry bread with a slight crisp to the outside and tender inside. This quick bread is fantastically versatile. Top with your choice of sweet or savory - taco, chili, honey, jam, curd...it's up to you.
Fill a skillet with enough oil for the bread to not touch the bottom of the pan. Turn oven to medium high heat.
Mix dry ingredient. Make a well in the center and slowly add the water. You many not use all the water, just add enough to get a shaggy dough. Mix until well combined with a wooden spoon. Let the dough rest for 2 minutes.
Separate the dough into 8 pieces onto a floured surface. Sprinkle flour over the dough and form to a thick circle. Don’t overwork the dough.
Place the dough, one at a time into the pan setting them away from yourself so as to splash the oil. Cook 2 minutes on each side. If you have space, you could cook 2-3 at a time.
Place cooked bread onto a rack to allow excess oil to drain.
One of the fantastic things about living in the city is accessibility to rich cultural experiences. Yesterday, we had a family trip to the Chicago Cultural Center to attend the Chinese New Year Celebration. It was a beautiful display of dance, martial arts, and music.
No surprise, the boys were very taken with the dragon dance and martial arts dancing. There was much reenactment throughout the rest of the afternoon. I can now claim the skill of reading textbooks while chanting a drum rhythm.
Today, as we enjoyed a snack of vegan blood orange curd spread on fresh baked biscuits, we recounted our favorite parts of the performances yesterday. The tales were movement filled. The snack was well accented with the subtly sweet orange curd. This curd spread was silkier in mouth feel than the creaminess of an egg and butter version. It a delightful, lighter alternative to traditional curd.
This last round I used blood oranges and the color of the cream is so lovely. The process is rather simple. Slice and juice your citrus. Reduce the juice to heighten the flavor. Zest in an orange peel to get a hint of sweet, floral aspect. Then sweeten with your choice of sweetener. In a measuring cup, dissolve cornstarch in cold milk before adding to the juice. Warning: be vigilant while stirring because the cream will thicken very quickly. Once it does, it ready to remove from heat, cool, and store or use immediately.
Curd is a multi functional spread that is delicious on biscuits, cookies, crepes, cakes, and more. Even by the spoonful, no judging here.
Hope you have a chance to try this recipe soon. I’d love to see the results. Be sure to tag MamaSparrow on social media.
Vegan Orange Curd
Yields 1 generous cup
Silky vegan orange curd. Flecked with the subtle floral sweetness of orange zest. Curd is a multi functional spread that is delicious on biscuits, cookies, crepes, cakes, and more.
10 minPrep Time
10 minCook Time
20 minTotal Time
1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (3-4 oranges; blood oranges produce a lovely color)
¾ cup non-dairy milk
3 Tbs. cornstarch
½ cup sugar or ¼ cup honey for non-vegans
Zest of one orange
In a small saucepan, over medium-low heat, reduce the orange juice to about half the volume.
While the juice is reducing, measure the milk in a liquid measuring cup. Whisk the cornstarch in the milk till it dissolves. Set aside.
Once the juice is reduced, add in the sugar and zest. Stir just until the sugar dissolves. Add the milk mixture to the saucepan and use a spatula to mix. Keep on medium-low heat and mix constantly until the texture thickens quickly. If the mixture starts to bubble before thickening, reduce the heat slightly. Once it does thicken, it will be very sudden so stay with you pan. Once the mixture is thickened remove from heat and allow to cool enough to store in a jar or use immediately.
Curd will store in the refrigerator for 1 week or freezer for 3 months. Some settling will occur, give the curd a stir to re-incorporate separating liquids.
I’ve been a bit quiet on the internet front as I’ve been enjoying time with family over the holidays. It was nice to have a break from grad school classes and a chance to spend time with people who are dear to me.
One week during the holidays was particularly notable. I got a chance to meet both my new nephews born during that week. It was an incredible honor to be present at one of their births. There is nothing else in the world like the experience or witnessing of childbirth.
Overall the week we went to Minnesota was family filled as I got to visit with my parents, my sister and her family, and my brother visiting from out of the country military service. Since we’ve been back home, the boys have been making pretend road trips to see family. It’s been adorable, but also means all my reusable shopping bags are constantly filled with books and toys.
Speaking of family, this recipe is an adaptation of a family recipe I grew up with. These muffins are like a winter hope. Oranges get so tasty by Christmas. The tang of prime citrus is like rays of sun promising summer warmth. While nature bides her time in the quiet rest of winter, I’ll stay here wrapped up a blanket with fresh baked goodies and a hot cup of tea.
Consider the baking and enjoyment of these muffins part of your winter therapy. The aromatic of orange zest will melt your stress and help you feel energized. Additionally, the studs of chocolate chips throughout these tender wheat muffins will give you an extra mood boost.
Orange Chocolate Chip Muffins
Yields 12 muffins
Tender wheat muffins with zesty orange and tasty surprises of semi-sweet chocolate chips throughout. These muffins are reminiscent of winter-y days of childhood.
10 minPrep Time
20 minCook Time
30 minTotal Time
1 cup all purpose flour
½ cup wheat flour
2 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
½ cup milk
⅓ cup honey/maple syrup or ½ cup sugar
¼ cup cooking oil
¾ cup chocolate chips, semisweet
1 ½ - 2 tsp. orange zest (peel from one orange)
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Prepare a muffin tin with liners or silicone muffin cups.
Mix everything together except the chocolate chips and orange zest. Fold in the chocolate and zest. Fill muffin cups to ⅔ full. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.
Happy Winter Solstice! We are feeling the excitement in our home as Christmas is just a few days away. My preschooler checks the tree every morning to see if Santa has visited. The boys have been busy creating holiday gifts and being kitchen helpers. The youngest loves to taste everything from a mixing bowl; even the french bread dough is tasted with enthusiasm. He then declares, “Mmm, good Mama!” If only that same zest was for the finished meals on the table.
I enjoy making the cookies I had as a child every Christmas. Breaking from tradition, it was my goal to bring you all something that was vegan and more allergen friendly for your holiday cookie plates. This recipe is just that. Peanut butter blossom cookies were the inspiration for this recipe. Tender, crumbly shortbread cookies are the perfect vehicle for combining peanut butter and chocolate. Flecks of sea salt flakes add a little bit of sparkle and bring out the chocolate taste. They are easily nut free if you use sunflower seed butter and refined sugar free.
Here’s to hoping you have a chance to add this to your baking plans this season. Snap a picture of your recipe result and tag Mama Sparrow on social media so we can see it too.
Vegan Peanut Butter Thumbprint Cookies
Yields 12-15 Cookies
Tender, crumbly shortbread cookies filled with peanut butter and drizzled with chocolate. These tasty treats are vegan, easily nut free and refined sugar free.
10 minPrep Time
10 minCook Time
20 minTotal Time
1 ¼ cup flour
⅓ cup coconut oil, melted
3 Tbs. maple syrup
1 ½ tsp. applesauce, unsweetened
3 Tbs. peanut butter
2 Tbs. maple syrup
Pinch of salt
2 Tbs. non dairy milk
¼ tsp. vanilla
1 oz. chocolate chips or chocolate
Coarse sea salt
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Mix all cookie ingredients together in a medium bowl until dough forms. Form form into ¾ in. - 1 inch balls - approximately 12-15 cookies. (Chill the dough briefly in plastic wrap if it is too sticky to work with.) Place on a parchment or silpat lined baking sheet. Flatten the dough balls into slight discs and press thumb in the center to create a little crater. Bake cookies for 10 minutes until lightly golden brown. Remove from oven and repress the centers with a spoon. Then allow the cookies to cool.
In a small saucepan, mix the peanut butter, maple syrup, and salt. Slowly add the milk, stirring all the while. The mix should get a nice smooth caramel consistency that has a bit of drizzle to it. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract. Set aside
Melt the chocolate over a double boiler or in the microwave. Place the melted chocolate into a piping bag or simply use a ziploc with the corner snipped off. Set aside
To assemble to cookies, spoon about 1 teaspoon of the peanut butter confection into each cookie’s thumbprint. Drizzle chocolate over the filled cookies and lightly sprinkle with coarse salt.
Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for a few days for up to 3 months in the freezer.
Nut free option: Use Sun Butter. Really you could use any preferred nut or seed butter. I did try pumpkin seed butter and it was not quite as tasty.
This is a recipe that has been handed down from my great grandmother. It is not Christmas in our family until these cookies are baking in the oven. My best memories of these cookies are their required presence the day our family decorated the Christmas tree. The Christmas album would be queued up, cups of hot chocolate prepared, and a plate of these cookies.
This tradition I have carried on with my own family. The copy of the recipe I have in my recipe box calls for margarine sticks. We use unsalted butter. Feel free to make which ever way you prefer. The results are much the same. The butter version requires re-chilling before going in the oven to maintain shape and reduce the spreading from the oven.
The recipe yield is entirely approximated. Much dough sampling and cookie sampling happens before I have the chance to determine how many cookies are made each time. Grab yourself a cup of hot chocolate to enjoy with these. Just try to save a few for Santa.
Hope you get a chance to make these soon. We would love to see the results. Share on social media and tag Mama Sparrow so we can see.
Melt-in-Your-Mouth Sugar Cookies
Yields 7-8 dozen
Melt in your mouth cookies
1 cup sugar
1 cup powdered sugar
1 cup cooking oil
1 cup butter
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cream of tartar
Pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla
4 ½ cups flour
In a large mixing bowl, cream the first 5 ingredients together. Then add the baking soda, cream of tartar, salt, and vanilla. Finally, mix in the flour 1 cup at a time.
Chill in refrigerator and then roll into ball and roll in sugar and then press out with a fancy glass bottom. Refrigerate 5 minutes before baking so cookies keep their shape.
Bake at 350 degrees F for 8-12 minutes.
Crisp sugar cookie with a slightly tender inside. Each bite melts in the mouth. Grab a cup of hot chocolate, tea, or coffee. Just be sure to save a few for Santa.
We had our first snowfall of the season earlier this week. A brief glance out the back window of the apartment and I caught an old longing. It was that penchant for winter night photographs. The soft light from surrounding houses and general urban aura accentuate the starring features of winter photography – contrast and texture. It is moments like these, passions remembered and fascinations reacquainted, that illuminate with reasoned existence.
This recipe harkens memories of my mother’s famous meat spaghetti. She never made less than a crowd’s worth when cooking her spaghetti. The sauce simmered and noodles boiled. Meanwhile, loaves of crusty, french bread were buttered, seasoned and broiled open-face, till toasty and fragrant. The real secret to this vegetarian version is the spices and the texture achieved from the pan cooked cauliflower.
This pasta dish is about as cozy as they come and a sure crowd pleaser. We fully recommend an accompaniment of crusty bread. We hope you try this recipe soon. Be sure to take a picture and tag Mama Sparrow on social media so we can see the results.
Yields 3-4 servings
A traditionally meaty sauce converted to a vegetarian delight. Grab a loaf of crusty bread. This is your next cozy pasta meal.
2 Tb olive oil; separated
1 small head of cauliflower
½ tsp sea salt
1 tsp fennel seed, ground
1 tsp sage, ground
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp marjarom, ground
Pinch of white pepper
12 oz of tomato pasta sauce
10-12 oz spaghetti noodles
In a medium mixing bowl, mix together spices and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add the cauliflower and toss till the cauliflower is covered in the oil and spice mix. Set aside to marinate for 30 minutes.
Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the seasoned cauliflower and reduce heat to low. Cook the cauliflower until tender on the outside with a slight crunch on the inside. May take 10-15 minutes. Splash in water to speed up the cooking and keep the cauliflower from drying.
Once the cauliflower is cooked, add in the pasta sauce until warmed through. Serve over spaghetti noodles.
A few weeks ago, I began the recipe testing and planning for Thanksgiving. My preschooler came home from class singing a song about pumpkins on a gate. A witch flies by and says. “I’m going to make you a pumpkin pie.” My son requested a pumpkin pie making session inspired by this song.
Agreeably, the pie making was a blast, but he did not enjoy the taste of it. I’ve been adjusting the recipe and he’s been liking it better, but asked for this pumpkin cake for Thanksgiving dessert.
This cake is a great replacement for anyone not into pie or who had been “pied out.” Use of your leftover pumpkin gourds or puree for a tasty bite of sweet and spice. Enjoy this cake with your choice of cold weather beverage. The ingredients are vegan and icing is naturally colored from carrot juice.
If you want the complete pumpkin cake look, bake a single cupcake with part of the batter. Use spinach cooked and pureed to achieve a green colored icing. Spinach is the mildest tasting leafy green for creating a natural food hue that does not interfere with taste.
Hope your Thanksgiving and harvest celebrations have been filled with joy. Please be sure to share your results from this recipe and tag Mama Sparrow so we can see it.
Vegan Pumpkin Cake
Tender, moist vegan pumpkin cake. Pleasantly spiced with a little extra kick of black pepper. This makes it really stand out from the usual pumpkin spiced products of the season.
10 minPrep Time
50 minCook Time
1 hrTotal Time
3 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 ½ cups sugar
⅔ cup coconut oil, melted and cooled slightly
1 14oz. can pumpkin puree (plain puree, not pie filling)
½ cup non-dairy milk
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp vinegar
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp ground ginger
¼ tsp ground nutmeg
⅛ tsp ground all-spice
⅛ tsp ground clove
1 ½ cup powdered sugar
2 ½ Tb. carrot juice
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly oil a standard size bundt pan.
In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir to combine and set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, mix the sugar and oil together. Add the pumpkin puree, non-dairy, vinegar, and vanilla extract. Fully combine.
Sift the dry flour mix into the wet ingredients in 2 stages. Stir in between each addition. Careful not to overmix.
Pour the cake batter into the prepared bundt pan. Bake for 50-60 minutes.
Allow cake to cool slightly, remove from pan and finish cooling before icing. Mix ingredients together for icing. Adjust the wet to dry ratio based on preference. Drizzle over cake and allow to set a few minutes before cutting and serving.