Vegan Vanilla Cupcakes

Friends! I was going to spend an unreasonable amount of time ranting and also show off my new hobby of making naturally leavened bread, but instead I got a puppy. You see, I’m always competing with Mary Ellen, and when she decided to replace her husband with a new model, I decided to get rid of my boyfriend and get a dog. Wait, the boyfriend might still be here…

This puppy wants to eat sourdough. But she can’t. And you can’t either because I’m not giving you the recipe today and you probably won’t be able to google it on your own.

Yep, just checked and his xbox is still in the living room. Maybe I didn’t get rid of him and he just went to work. You know, it really doesn’t matter. He can be here or not. The point is that I got a dog. And found a new recipe for vegan cake because immediately before getting my dog I was house-sitting, out of eggs, and in dire need of cake. So this is the vanilla version of my vegan chocolate cake. If you go with cupcakes, and not, like, an actual cake, don’t try to shove all the batter into 12 cupcakes. They’ll all overflow and you’ll hate yourself. Go with 14 and put some water in the empty cupcake spots. It’s a pain in the ass but it’s worth it.

I’m also a fancy person who decided to put raspberry filling in my cake. I looked up how Martha Stewart did it and used her method. You don’t have to be as fancy as Martha Stewart and me. But I will judge you if you choose to omit the filling.

I didn’t make my own jam. because unlike Mary Ellen, who has a toddler, a husband, and two dogs, I have a puppy and between 0 and 1 boyfriends so I have no time for that shit.

Vegan vanilla cupcakes

Cupcakes:

  • 1 3/4 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon vinegar
  • 1 cup water

Buttercream:

  • Butter (vegan if you’re keeping things vegan)
  • Powdered sugar
  • Small amount of vanilla
  • A few splashes almond milk

Filling

  • Raspberry jam

Makes 14 cupcakes or one 9-inch round/8-inch square cake.

Instructions:

  1. Whisk all dry ingredients together
  2. Make 3 wells in the dry ingredients.  Pour oil into one, vinegar into one, and vanilla into one.  Pour 1 cup cold water over everything and stir until combined. 
  3. Bake at 350 for 20-30 min.
  4. Cool
  5. Cut a hole in the top of the cupcake and pull out a small chunk. Save the chunk put in about a teaspoon of raspberry jam then replace the chunk of cupcake and frost. Did I just diligently recipe test the cake for you, give you perfect detailed instructions, and then not even bother giving you rough guidelines for the buttercream frosting? Yes, yes I did.
I didn’t actually fill all of them because I got bored of cutting out small circles

Can’t stop to think of a witty sign off, my puppy is eating a couch

Serafina

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Barbecue Jackfruit Bao

Friends, I’ve been a vegetarian for such a long time at this point that I’ve stopped sharing the exact amount of time because I realized it ages me. So, I’ve been a vegetarian since I was about 10, and I’d rather not say how long that is exactly and force you all to do the math. Suffice it to say, it’s been awhile. It’s been so long that I’ve started to realize there are entire groups of foods that I’ve never really encountered. Since today is the Lunar New Year, I’m going to share a vegetarian version of Chinese Bao buns. I hadn’t even heard of Bao until I saw it on another food blog a few weeks ago, and this gets me to my side-rant.

Hey, Google and Facebook, I’m not fucking pregnant. Just because one of the food bloggers I occasionally follow got knocked up doesn’t mean I’m pregernant. So, feel free to stop showing me ads for maternity clothes, ovulation kits, and baby supplies. I get it, you did the math on how old I am and have unilaterally determined that it’s time for me to get on the baby train. But you’re not a part of that decision, creepy-ass targeted-ad people. My IUD and I are perfectly happy together. Her name is Maude. I love you, Maude.

Anyway, I realize vegan barbecue steamed buns might be sending a mixed message about odd cravings after that little rant, but they sounded genuinely intriguing. And it’s the Lunar New Year, so here we are. If you’re worried that something about bao will get you pregante, I recommend oral ingestion only, and maybe go get an IUD just in case?


If you go with premade jackfruit, make sure it looks like it was made by a douchebag.

Vegan Barbecue Bao (with Jackfruit)

Ingredients

For the dough:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp instant yeast
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 4 tbsp sugar
  • ½ cup warm water
  • 1 tbsp oil

For the jackfruit filling

  • Either get premade BBQ jackfruit like I did OR
  • Drain one can of jackfruit and cook with barbecue sauce. Use the jackfruit in brine, not the sweet kind.

Instructions:

  1. Mix all of the dough ingredients together and knead for about 5 minutes until it’s relatively smooth
  2. Let rise for 30 minutes, or longer if, for example, your yeast has been sitting in the fridge for like two years. The dough should double in size
  3. Once your dough has risen, knead it again briefly and then cut it into about 8 pieces. Roll into 3-4 inch rounds. Place a few teaspoons of pulled apart BBQ jackfruit in each of the dough section things. Then crimp them together in an attractive manner (maybe, like, watch a youtube or something to make yours actually attractive)
  4. Steam for 15 minutes. I used a steam basket because I’m not going out to buy a bamboo steamer. My bao stuck to the bottom a little, but it was fine.

Turns out I wasn’t a huge fan of bao. But I still ate it, I mean, it’s not like it was cheesecake.

Serafina

A lovely smoothie

Disclaimer: This smoothie will turn out ugly, as pictured.

Oh hey there, eggplanters. I’m sure some of you were wondering if I’d return after Mary Ellen’s blasphemous post about the health benefits of cheesecake. Well, I’m still here and it will take more than a dairy-infused feud to stop me.

I’ve been thinking about our time here together, and I feel like I have a moral obligation to use my significant clout for the greater good. I think everyone can see where I’m going here. This is going to be an all-out rant about group texts. You see, awhile back I was added (against my will) to a group text involving my darling boyfriend’s entire family. For years, he has complained about my family, we see them all the time, and there are just a lot of us Bearfinas. And while my family may outnumber his 10:1, at least my people had the decency to keep him out of any group texts. Now, it’s well documented that I am an exceedingly tolerant person, however, today was the final straw. Somehow a text chain about current events led to a series of offensive chicken memes and I could no longer contain my rage. After a brief 20 text rant/dissertation about chicken rights, as well as a few dozen thoughtful PETA re-tweets, I regained control of my life and decided to lead by example instead of shouting via group text.  

So here I am, Fully enlightened. Drinking a smoothie that was originally supposed to be green but turned out kinda brown because I added strawberries.

Vegan Green Smoothie, for health and enlightenment

Makes two smoothies, so you can share your enlightenment with your future self:

Ingredients

  • 1 apple
  • ½ orange
  • Small handful of mixed frozen berries
  • Large handful of spinach
  • Some almond milk

Instructions

  1. Put all the fruit at the bottom, followed by the spinach, followed by the almond milk
  2. If you are saving one of the smoothies for later, wait until you’re actually going to make the smoothie to add the almond milk
  3. Blend
  4. Take a selfie while you’re drinking your smoothie, show off that radiant glow and deep understanding of the universe

For a long time I was hiding in anonymity, concerned about what my family, boyfriend’s family, and colleagues would think of my flawless recipes and exceptional prose. But no more! I’m here! I’m going to soar through the skies like a chicken. And feast on vegan greenish smoothies.

Serafina

A Deconstructed Sweet Potato Fiesta

Whoooo baby! I don’t know about you, but are you all perpetually sloshed just to get through the holidays? No? Just me?  Are you all not the bane of your in-laws’ existence? Wow.  This is awkward.  As usual.  I should learn how to start my posts better, I guess.

 

Well, at the very least, I look forward to hearing an update from Serafina on if she was able to pass off those pies as normal pies.  I was obsessively thinking about them for weeks.  They even showed up in my regular sex dreams that I have about her.  Too much detail?  Not enough?  I never can tell.

 

It’s the time of year for pumpkin or sweet potatoes or whatever.  Carbs.  It’s time for carbs.  Actually it’s always the season for carbs at my house.

 

And sweet potatoes.

 

I like to pretend I know what healthy intuitive eating means, but to be perfectly honest, I don’t have a clue and my intuitions about everything give me anxiety so I just eat sweet potatoes and beans.  So I totally changed up my old recipe that Serafina thinks looks like chili but it’s so much worse.  And by totally, I mean, I “deconstructed” it.

 

Does deconstruction mean chop up the sweet potato?  Because that’s just what I did. That counts.

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Look at this fine set up.  Look at it!  I have things.

Deconstructed Chili Fiesta (TM)

Ingredients:

  • Can of black beans
  • Sweet potatoes or yams
  • Cumin
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Onion powder
  • Garlic powder
  • Oil
  • Salsa
  • Guac if you’re a rich asshole

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They actually look worse than this.  Remember, I use the Foodie app for filters (pay me!)

Directions:

Peel and chop up the sweet potato into bit sized pieces.  Toss them in salt and oil and roast at 425 degrees for… I dunno.  15-20 mins.  Heat up the beans.  Combine the beans and potatoes.  Season with all the seasoning stuff to your liking, and add salsa.  Eat, possibly share with another person, or whatever.

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As you can tell, this bowl didn’t even make it to the table.  I just ate standing over the counter and watched TV.

Does this meal sound like it’s actually something that should go into a meal?  No.  It doesn’t.  Stop trying to make things so complicated, Jennifer.  Just eat the potatoes.

 

I’m only 90% dead inside.

 

-Mary Ellen

Deconstructed PB&J

The other day, while I was trying to figure out how to justify never having to clean the floors in my house, I started thinking about my okay friend and blog partner, Serafina.  You see, I’m worried about her.  What does she do in the winter?  How does she get her vegetables?  Worried, I quickly came up with this recipe that uses minimal ingredients, all of which you can buy cheaply in bulk without them going bad, so it’ll get everyone through the winter.  It also pairs nicely with whatever that weird drink she made that I’m probably going to start making because I no longer can sleep and wow late night recording sessions are starting to sound good now omg I’m so excited.

 

Deconstructed PB&J.

 

Now, when I use the term “deconstructed” I’m using it with the assumption that I have no idea what it means, but affirms my tendency towards trendy hipster things.

 

This recipe uses no peanut butter or jelly.  So don’t worry if you don’t have those things.

 

Here we go.

 

Ingredients:

  • Rice (I used brown, but you can use white)
  • Nut butter (I used sunflower, but you can use whatever you like)
  • Maple syrup (I guess… you could use jelly…)
  • Butter (because butter makes everything better – I used vegan butter though)

 

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This is the moment it was truly deconstructed, right?  Right?  Did I use it right?!

 

Directions:

So, you cook rice and put it in a bowl and add all the other stuff to your liking.  And mix it.  And then eat it.  Think about Serafina, and her dead sunflower.

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Mixed.  All winter long.

 

Get your vitamins from a tablet, not food.

 

-Mary Ellen

Energizing Elixir

We had our first frost recently. Now all the plants are dead. Tomatoes are dead. Flowers are dead. Check out this dead sunflower.

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It’s sad right? It was eaten by squirrels before the frost. Extra sad. It’s also dark when I leave the house every morning. Dark when I get home. So depressing.

PSYCHE!!! Nothing can be depressing when you’re hopped up on super healthy energizing elixirs!! Oh, yeah, it’s that time again. Serafina’s handing down some caffeine-induced (and whatever the fuck else is in energy drinks) wisdom!!

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A golden-haired nymph appeared and gave me the idea for this wondrous, soul-saving concoction. Was she a hallucination? Maybe. Probably not, because it was before I drank the elixir. I forgot to take a picture of her when she was here so I recreated it for all of you with my famous courtroom illustrator skills

magical elixir

Ingredients:

Mango Naked Juice

Energy Drink

Instructions:

Mix energy drink first and then mango, then stir.

Consume.

Conquer all obstacles. Sing a song about conquering your obstacles. Stop singing, you’re getting distracted. That sounded really good though, make a note to yourself to get some audio recording software to share your gift with the world. Go to the store and buy more mango smoothie and energy drinks before it starts to wear off. Don’t worry if you can’t sleep anymore, you should just drink more energy drinks to combat the urge to sleep.

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Always listen to the golden-haired nymph.

Serafina

Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies

This is my “Fuck, I need to make a dessert and shave my legs and I don’t really have time for either” cookie recipe. It works well when your significant other comes home and reminds you that you have plans to go to a dinner party/game night and he told everyone we were bringing dessert.

I made these cookies in about 20 minutes and also shaved my legs in the kitchen sink while they were baking. It was an impressive display of my domestic and feminine abilities. Then I went on to win at Secret Hitler because, not to brag, but I’m pretty great at being Hitler. I know how that sounds, but sometimes you have to put aside your values because winning a board game is more important.

These are my go-to vegan cookie, but for time’s sake I used real butter which doesn’t fuck up the consistency of the cookie when you melt it.

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I actually had an excuse not to clean the kitchen before shooting these photos with my phone

This recipe was adapted from one of my first vegan cookbooks, How it All Vegan. I bought the book thinking the authors were lesbians and was very disappointed when they talked about male significant others.

Ingredients:

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup softened butter (if you want these cookies to actually be vegan, you obviously need vegan butter)

1/4 cup oil

1/4 cup unsweetened apple sauce

3 tbsp water

2 tsp vanilla extract

2 1/4 cups flour

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt (less if butter is salted)

1 cup chocolate chips

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Two types of chocolate chips sounded fancy to me at first, but it just made it seem like I didn’t have enough of any one kind, which might have also been true

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375°
  2. In a small bowl, combine sweetener, margarine, oil, water and vanilla.
  3. In a large bowl, mix together flour, baking soda and salt
  4. Add butter mixture and chocolate chips to the flour mixture and mix well.
  5. Scoop balls of dough onto a cookie sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes or until the edges are browned

Makes 12-15 cookies

Eat enough cookies that you no longer want to murder your significant other for failing to give you adequate warning to prepare a dessert.

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These were two leftover cookies at the end of the night. I ate them both when we got home.

Just to be super clear, it’s only okay to be Hitler when you’re playing board games. We may flirt with being terrible people around here sometimes, but there are some lines we won’t cross, like actually being Hitler. If I think of any other lines we won’t cross, I’ll be sure to let you know.

-Serafina

 

Serafina’s flawless skin care regimen

As per usual, I bring you this blog post while procrastinating on a paper that’s due at midnight tonight (protip: it doesn’t count as procrastination if you never start the paper).

Something’s been bugging me lately, and it’s about Mary Ellen. I know, I know, I shouldn’t be coming here to talk shit. But I am, so you can all just deal with it. My problem is that she knows so much about being a girl. So much. She’s always posting things like weird creepy face masks, and I don’t understand it at all. What do the face masks do? Why does she look so scary? How did she trick her husband Annie into also wearing a face mask? Do they put face masks on her baby and dogs? This is just a list of the first few questions I have. Instead of seeking answers to any of my questions, I’m going to assume I’m an expert*** and walk you all through my own “minimalist” skin care regimen.

Step one: Shower every couple of days. More frequently if your armpits smell. But, we’re not focusing on armpit skin care, we’re focusing on face skin care which I think I implied above but didn’t really make it clear until now.

Step two: Once in the shower, ensure that you have some water on your skin. This will be important later

Step three: Wash everything with Dr. Bronner’s. I mean, everything. Face, armpits, hair, butt, feet. You know, everything. Shit, I said I was going to just stick with face skin care and then I went and told you all the other stuff. Oh, well. Now you know the rest of my skin care.

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Also, Dr. Bronner’s provides good reading material if you forgot to bring your phone in the bathroom to take a poop

Step four: if you live in a very dry climate, put some lotion on your skin. I’ve never seen Silence of the Lambs, but I hear that movie comes out in favor of moisturizing.

That’s it! Feel free to ditch all your other skin care stuff, because I don’t know what it is for.

All one!

Serafina

 

***Legal disclaimer: the above advice is not intended to treat, cure, or diagnose any ailments. Serafina Bearafina’s expertise in skin care is merely self proclaimed and she does not actually understand how any skin care products work. She’s not really sure if you should even use soap, TBH. The above advice neither guarantees nor implies that the condition of your skin will improve. Serafina isn’t sure what good skin is, but she probably doesn’t have it. Serafina recently had an infected ingrown hair, and after refusing to seek medical attention, she asked someone to explain exfoliation to her, only to promptly ignore all advice that was given to her.

Homemade vegan lip balm

Have I mentioned that I get a little ridiculously picky about some things? I probably haven’t. But last year I discovered my favorite lip balm had changed their formulation and it was suddenly disgusting and unusable. I found the lot numbers of the old lip balm recipe and I bought a year’s worth, stashing it in my fridge. Everything was wonderful until I only had about 2 left and I started panicking. I bought one of every lip balm and Whole Foods and they were all terrible. I was beside myself and fell into a deeper depression than the time my chicken was eating all of her eggs (that’s still happening, by the way, I just try not to care about it too much)

Anyway, I decided I needed to make my own lip balm and after extensive research, I have two recipes for you. One of the lip balm recipes sucks and the other is amazing and I love it.

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I know what you’re thinking, why bother sharing the shitty lip balm recipe? I don’t really have a great answer for that. I mostly just want credit for all the work I did. And if anyone is wondering if this was an attempt to make Mary Ellen feel bad about herself for not doing things like making lasagna and DIYing lip balm, it is. I’m amazing. I definitely didn’t almost fail out of grad school to bring you this lip balm recipe. And that was definitely the kind of high caliber sentence a graduate student should be writing.

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That’s a bunched up Christmas towel in the background. Everyone uses Christmas towels year-round, right?

Recipe 1: Shitty Lip Balm

Makes about 8 tubes of lip balm

1 tbsp candelilla wax

2 tbsp coconut oil

1 tbsp shea butter

¼ tsp vitamin E oil

Optional: 3-5 drops essential oil (I used lavender)

 

Recipe 2: Amazing Lip Balm

Makes about 12 tubes of lip balm

2 tbsp candelilla wax

2 tbsp shea butter

2 tbsp coconut oil

10 drops vitamin E oil

Optional: 3-5 drops essential oil (I used lavender)

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Jars are the best makeshift double broilers because you can just throw them in the dishwasher and then your pot doesn’t smell like candelilla and lavender when you want to make pasta

The instructions are the same for both recipes

Melt candelilla wax, shea butter, and coconut oil in a double broiler (I just put a jar in a pot of simmering water)

Once melted, add vitamin E and essential oils and stir

Pour mixture into empty lip balm tubes or whatever canister you want to use. I used a pipette to transfer the mixture into the tubes. Let set for at least a few hours until room temperature, they will be fully hardened after sitting overnight. They turn off-white once hardened.

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You’d think with a pipette I wouldn’t get drips everywhere, but my hands were super shaky because I had too much caffeine that morning

May your lips be moisturized but not sticky and gross

Serafina

Q & A with Master Gardener: Serafina Berafina

Well, you guys asked for it, and we’re finally able to deliver. These are all questions you have sent in for Serafina, world-renowned gardening expert.

Q: What soil amendments do you use?

A: Well, normally I only use compost, but this year I used a little fertilizer as well. I know, I know, you’re thinking ‘what about the soil microbiome???’ Yeah, I read The Soil and Health too (no I didn’t, it was way too boring) In my defense, I only used a little bit of fertilizer and I used compost as well. Most importantly, I found a cruelty free fertilizer.

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Vegan fertilizer: for when your vegetables don’t taste self-righteous enough

Follow up question: Can’t you just make your own fertilizer by growing soybeans?

Follow up answer: Oh, shit, I didn’t realize you guys got the internet out in Iowa. Um… Yeah, you could probably do something like that. You should just ride your tractor down the road a bit and ask your neighbor though.

Q: That was kind mean. I almost don’t want to look you up on FarmersOnly anymore.

A: That wasn’t really a question, but feel free to look me up on FarmersOnly. I’m ToplessMotherOfChickens.

Q: Ugh, fine! How are you handling the stress of chicken motherhood?

A: OMG, reader, OMG. Amelia, my golden chicken, eats all of her own eggs. Every damn one of them. I’ve tried everything. We talked about why she is acting out and whether the other girls are picking on her. My boyfriend made roll-away nesting boxes. I looked into putting up privacy curtains in front of the nesting boxes so she doesn’t feel so anxious. Nothing is helping. I don’t know what to do. I’ve started drinking heavily to cope with the lack of eggs. Everyone I talk to recommends that we slaughter my baby chicken and eat her, like you would any human child that stopped laying eggs. It’s just all too much for me right now.

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Q: Wow, that got a little intense. Maybe we should get to something lighter? Um, what are you growing this year?

A: Great question. I’m a little behind in my planting what with all of the woman problems Mary Ellen told you about last week. So far I have tomatoes, jalapeño, spinach, radishes, lettuce, arugula, carrots, and snap peas. Corn, squash, beans, cucumbers will be planted later this week. Also some flowers or whatever.

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Q: Do you have any gardening bras that you can recommend?

A: No, my boob kept popping out of my bra the whole time I was planting today. It was exceedingly bothersome until I just took off my bra and top (but then I had to apply sunscreen).

Q: Who submitted all of these questions? Some of them seem suspiciously intimate…

A: How dare you imply that I wrote my own questions and answers, don’t make me come over to whatever area of the internet you’re from and make an in-person frowny face at you!

Well, internet friends, there you have it. All you wanted to know about Serafina’s gardening (and more!)

XOXO

Serafina