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.
Serves 1 piece of bread
Galets – Fry 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.
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.
Have you ever had one of those kitchen fails that so derailed your day that you shirked all other responsibilities and watched a stupid movie? That happened to me this week. My first batch of coconut cream must have had some residual liquid so it did not whip. I tried to save it by adding a plethora of things – cornstarch, powdered sugar, greek yogurt. It remained a stubbornly liquid cream that was offensively overly sweetened. Dinner was also cooking in the process. Unfortunately the pan of cooked potatoes missed the colander and all went down the sink. To top it off my nap striking toddler was writhing and howling at my feet as all existence had become objectionable to him.
A more successful second attempt at dinner and a few deep breaths helped to power through bed time for the little ones. Then we enjoyed a stupid movie and an improvised dessert. Instead of coconut cream, we slathered slabs of sugar cookie crust with honey sweetened yogurt and fresh berries. It was good. If you do not use this recipe with coconut cream, I hope you go with the yogurt topped route.
The coconut cream is what makes this fruit pizza really special.The sugar cookie crust is reminiscent of Potbelly’s sugar cookies – chewy and vanilla forward. Top that with honey sweetened coconut cream and fresh berries. We have a dessert pizza that will please a crowd and is vegan to boot. If you happen to have left overs because you make extra, I won’t judge you for eating it for breakfast.
Hope you get an opportunity to make this and enjoy a safe, fun weekend!
Serves 1 slice
Vegan Fruit Pizza
A Potbelly reminiscent sugar cookie crust topped with whipped coconut cream and fresh berries. Beautiful enough to work for an occasion and tasty enough that the whole crowd will love them.
15 minPrep Time
10 minCook Time
25 minTotal Time
1 ⅔ cups flour, all purpose
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
4 ½ Tb coconut oil, room temperature
1 ⅛ cup sugar, white or cane
3 Tb greek yogurt, can use non-dairy
3 Tb vegetable oil
1 Tb cornstarch
1 Tb milk; I used flax milk
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 can of full fat coconut cream*
⅛ cup honey, or agave nectar for strict vegan
½ tsp vanilla extract
1 ½ cups of red and blue berries; raspberries, blueberries, strawberries
Preheat oven to 350F.
In a medium bowl, whisk the dry ingredients together - flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
In a large bowl, cream the sugar into the room temperature coconut oil. Add in the yogurt, vegetable oil, cornstarch, milk and vanilla mixing thoroughly.
Add in dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and combine into a dough. If the dough is a little on the dry side add a tiny splash more milk. Form the dough into a disk, cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
Roll or press dough out onto a 12 inch pizza pan lined with parchment paper. Bake for 10-14 minutes - just until browning on the edges. Cool cookie completely.
Whip the coconut cream in a stand mixer or by hand until it creates peaks. Stir in the honey and vanilla extract.
Spread the whipped coconut cream on the cooled cookie. Decorate with berries.
*Refrigerate the can of cream overnight. Open can from the bottom side and carefully remove the solids. Save the liquids for a smoothie or other later use.
This Memorial Day was our wedding anniversary. I baked a cake to celebrate. There was a to-die-for cupcake recipe I found from ConnoisseurusVeg. Eager to try it, but wanting a cake for the occasion I converted the cupcake recipe into a vegan double layer cake. Since the cake and frosting was flavored with orange, I made candied orange slices to top the cake.
We had a lovely celebration as a family. We hiked at a nature preserve just minutes from our house. It was our first visit. I was surprise to learn there was such a wildlife escape near our urban home. We could still hear a basketball game happening just beyond a hill as we hike near the pond. Yet, we stood face to face with a deer calmly munching on a shrub while the children shrieked with delight. It is safe to say we have found a new family favorite destination at the local nature preserve.
Hope you all had a lovely holiday weekend! Read on if you are familiar with candying oranges. I am hoping to learn from your experience. Otherwise, hop on down to the recipe to make the cake yourself.
Question on Candying Oranges:
When I candied the oranges, I set them on a cooling rack after removing them from the cooking pan. I wanted them to cool and to allow the juices to drip. They didn’t appear to be dripping anymore so I stored them in an airtight container with wax paper between the slices. I stored them overnight till I frosted the cake. When I took them back out they were leeching more juices. Should I have left them out longer to set or would dehydrating help to keep them from leeching. If you have any orange candying tips, please share in the comments.
Deliciously rich complex chocolate wine cake. Chocolate orange ganache frosting and candied orange slices are a perfect complement.
Spiced Wine Chocolate Cake*
2 tsp ground flax seeds
6 Tb water
1 1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 ground cloves
1 tsp orange zest
1/2 tsp salt
2 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cup red wine
2/3 cup canola oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
Chocolate Orange Ganache Frosting
3 - 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
3/4 cup cocoa powder
3/8 cup coconut cream, canned**
4 1/2 Tb orange juice
1 1/2 tsp orange zest
Candied Orange Slices Topping
1 medium navel orange
1 1/2 cups water
1 cup granulated sugar, divided
Preheat oven to 350F. Line 2 9in round layer cake pans with a circle of parchment paper. Lightly grease the pan sides and paper with coconut oil (melted or solid).
Whisk flax seeds and water together in a small bowl. Set aside while preparing the dry ingredients
Stir together the brown sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, orange zest and salt in a large bowl or your stand mixing bowl, if using. Sift in the flour.
Add flax mixture, red wine, canola oil and vanilla extract. Beat with electric mixer for a couple of minutes. Pause a few times to push mix down the sides of the bowl. Divide the batter between two cake pans.
Bake 24 minutes or until toothpick comes out mostly clean. Allow to cool in pan a few minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack.
Beat the coconut cream with an electric mixer until velvety. Add in 3 cups of powdered sugar and all other ingredients. Mix until thick and creamy. It additional powdered sugar is needed, add 1/4 cup at a time.
Candied Orange Topping
Slice the orange crosswise, into 1/4 inch thick slices. Discard the ends.
In a medium skillet, combine 1/2 cup sugar and water. Bring mixture to boil. Add the orange slices and cook over medium heat about 20 minutes - until thin syrup develops and slices become translucent. Turn the slices occasionally.
Reduce the heat to low and simmer about 10 minutes - until the sauce thickens, but the slices are still sturdy. Again, turn slices occasionally.
Transfer the cooked slices to a drying rack above disposable paper or a cutting board to allow the slices to cool and juices to drip. Save the syrup for another use.
Place remaining 1/2 cup of sugar on a platter, Dredge candied orange slices in the sugar to create a sparkly effect.
*Increase the recipe by 1/3 to create a third layer to the cake for a fancier occasion. The cake layers are thin, but dense and rich. I was satisfied with the double layer because of the richness and density of the cake.
**Place can of coconut milk in refrigerator overnight. Open can from bottom and pour off watery part of the coconut milk. Measure out the thick cream for the frosting. Store extra in refrigerator. The thiner milk is great in smoothies.