Category Archives: Birthdays

Happy Birthday Kristie! Now Eat the Damn Cake!

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This is my best friend in the whole world. It’s not really a picture of her, but the likeness is absolutely uncanny, I promise. Yesterday was her birthday, and as part of my present to her, I had to promise not to take a picture of her and put it on my blog. I grudgingly agreed, and instead grabbed this picture of her chillin with Jiggly Puff. At any rate, she is now officially old as hell. How exciting!

Kristie and I don’t have some sort of average, run of the mill, friendship. It took us years and years to train each other to be the other’s best friend, and have been working on it for about sixteen years now. I’m proud to say that finally, after sixteen years of friendship, I have learned that “Don’t put my picture on the internet” actually means, “Don’t put my picture on the internet.” My mom’s been trying to teach me lessons far simpler than that for twenty six years. Good job, Kristie!

I know a few more things about Kristie that facilitated our birthday celebration (which was a simple dinner at my house); sixteen years will give you that kind of experience, I think. For example: Kristie loves green beans, doesn’t eat meat, thinks Eggplant Parmesan is the epitome of Italian food (but we can’t eat the actual Parmesan, damn rennet), doesn’t like chocolate cake, but could eat frosting out of a bowl pretty happily.

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Oh, and she digs sprinkles.

Lightly Spiced Cake or Kristie’s Super Birthday Cake of Happy Joy!
Makes one 9″ round cake (double the recipe to make a layer cake)
2 c white whole wheat flour
1/2 c sugar
1 tbs cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp ginger
1 tbs baking powder, divided
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 c canola oil
1 c almond milk
1 tsp vanilla
1 recipe Vegan Frosting of Joy OR
Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting (see below)
Sprinkles (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 F.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, 2 tsp of the baking powder, and salt, mixing well.

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I’m going to teach you a new technique I just learned which helps the applesauce egg bind better. I’ll be updating past recipes (such as other cookies and muffins) to reflect this new trick, which you should take with you into other baking adventures!

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Combine the applesauce with the remaining tsp of baking powder. I don’t know why this works better, but it really makes the applesauce a much more effective binder.

After you combine those, you know the drill. Whisk together the oil and applesauce until emulsified and stir in the vanilla. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix together with as few strokes as possible.

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Pour into a 9″ round pan, and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a fork comes out clean.

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While your cake cools, whip up some frosting. With my chocolate cupcakes, I whipped up a vegan version of buttercream that was pretty good, but for this one I highly recommend this fake cream cheese frosting that will fool people into thinking they’re eating the real thing.

Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting
Frosts two 9″ cakes, but feel free to make a little extra for decorating (I wish I had!)
1 container non hydrogenated Tofutti Better than Cream Cheese (or 8 oz of another vegan cream cheese)
2 tbs vegan margarine
3 cups powdered sugar

Using an electric hand beater (or some serious muscles) beat together the cream cheese and margarine. Add the powdered sugar, one cup at a time, until what you have looks suspiciously like frosting. Taste it, adjust sugar if necessary, and then ice the heck out of the cake.

Let the four year old in your house apply the sprinkles and tada!

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Your best friend won’t care that you aren’t the best at frosting things, or that it’s literally covered with sprinkles.

Hell, her favorite cake until recently was titled “funfetti” anyway.

She won’t care that you put her birthday on display on your blog…or that you called her old as hell.

Instead, she will be so happy that you baked her a cake, from scratch and with love, that she will invite you to sit at the table with her, after all the dishes are cleared, to eat cake straight from the serving plate. Perhaps you’ll even have a little fork cheers? Then before you know it, that half a cake you were planning on sending her home with is less than a piece, and you feel full, comatose, but strangely accomplished.

That’s what it’s like to have a best friend.

Happy Birthday, Kristie!

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Black Bean…Birthday…Burgers?

Mike’s mom, who will henceforth be referred to as Momma K (or, if you want: “Cool Momma K,” or “Hip Momma K”) had a birthday yesterday. Since she’s awesome, she got to spend the whole day hanging out at home waiting for the Verizon guy to show up, perhaps playing a little Zuma. Sounds like a fun night, right? The woman knows how to party.

Momma K is no ordinary lady. When we visit, which isn’t often enough because she lives on top of a mountain in Pennsylvania that I’m not one hundred percent sure shows up on a map, she rolls out the red carpet. I’ve never seen her kitchen empty and not a single request from my fiance goes denied. (This actually says a lot about Mike and my relationship, since I’m almost certain that he stays with me for the food, or at least was lured by it, but alas, that’s a post for another day.) Her meals are so yummy, I usually gain a few pounds when we visit, which says a lot because she’s a carnivore! She taught me how to sew, is absurdly grateful for whatever meager gifts we can rummage together for various holidays, and even makes her own blogging dog’s food. So let me repeat the statement I made above–She spent her birthday waiting for the Verizon guy to show up and fix her phone.

All this woman wants this year, out of the plethora of yummy things I offered to make to celebrate her birthday, were a few black bean burgers, maybe even the recipe. Good god, how could I deny her?

Smoky Black Bean Burgers of Birthday Happy Times
1 15 oz can Black Beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 c Oats
1 tbs Ketchup
2 tsb Mustard (Dijon if you have it!)
1/4 cup Molasses
4 dashes Liquid Smoke
1 tsp Garlic Powder
1/2 tsp (or more!) Chilli Powder

In a medium mixing bowl, take your black beans and mash the living hell out of them. This is easily done with a potato masher (I’m almost positive you own one. It’s probably next to the rolling pin) or a fork, and is an excellent way to vent any lingering frustration over, say, the Verizon guy not showing up until 8 PM.
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Mash those until they stop reminding you of his stupid, wire toting face! >:^O

They’ll look like this.
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Mmmmm. Appealing huh? Stir in your liquid goods. Be careful to make sure all the molasses poured out, since it has a tendency to stick to everything except the food it was intended for. (Note: If you don’t have molasses–and you should. Definitely worth the price and you can often get a decent deal on certain brands–you could swap the molasses and ketchup for barbecue sauce, but it’s really not gonna taste nearly as good. It’ll still be tasty though.) Add in the oats and spices and stir until thoroughly combined. At this point, if you want, you can add some other spices or adjust anything you want. These are beans, not hamburger, so you can really easily taste as you go.

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You’ll notice that this has the consistency of…well…don’t worry about it.

Take a big ol’ handful of the stuff and pat it down into patties. Relax if it feels a little too moist. You want this, trust me. If they were dryer and more easy to pat down they would be crumbly at the end, and you might as well have eaten a can of baked beans, drained and left out in the sun for a few hours.

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That’s much better!

Lightly coat a pan with oil and cook them over medium heat for about five minutes on each side.

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Top them with whatever you want and serve! I went with a ketchup, mustard, veganaise, tomato, pickle and onion combo.

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They’re also good with Teriyaki sauce, pineapple, (yes, I am naming a burger made famous by a chain restaurant), mushrooms is your family would freaking eat them or whatever you want. Try making over your favorite “real” burger using these patties. Trust me, it’s still tasty.

Sometimes, I’ll add things into them to give it a little more punch. These add ins include, but are not limited to: corn, chopped carrots, sauteed onions, a few scoops of nutritional yeast, some vegan cheese, and chopped bell pepper. These are all pretty good, but to be honest, I’m not the biggest fan of finding crunchy things in my burger so I usually don’t do the carrot thing anymore. Most of the time, we just eat them this way, and they’re yummy and go great with sweet potato or *gasp* regular fries.

Happy Birthday Momma K!

:-D

It’s my Birthday!
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Well, at least it was yesterday. Today was the day I was kept up all night by tiny coughs, peed on when the tiny cougher was allowed into our bed, thrown up on when trying to give the gasping wretch her medicine, spit on when attempting again (because apparently, it didn’t taste “yummy” enough), and then forced to clean up dog vomit. You know, because that’s a thing one of the dogs needed to do today.

26, it’s on.

Still, it was pretty awesome as far as Birthdays go. My friend Sarah knit me this awesome infinity scarf:
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It’s so cozy, I could die!

And my friend Angela got me a jar of roasted red pepper pasta sauce! I am going to eat the HELL out of that!

Since it’s my Birthday, I have a gift for you. But, since it’s my Birthday, it isn’t something nearly as interesting as a recipe. Like I had to cook anything this past weekend. Instead, it’s…

Crunchy, Hip, and Broke Celebrations!

A practical guide to celebrating cheap but awesome.

1. It’s your birthday, not your wedding.
I’ve worked really crappy retail long enough to have seen, at least twice a week, some girl buy herself an entire new outfit just to go out in for her Birthday. Don’t misunderstand me, there is nothing wrong with getting yourself fancied up for a special day, but there is a difference between fancy, and fancy. Repeat after me: I don’t need a two hundred dollar dress. Liberating, right? Besides, I don’t care what day of the year it is, those eighty dollar pumps aren’t going to make a whole hell of a lot of a difference. Instead of shopping around for fancy clothes try the clearance racks, or the thrift store. Even better, check out your own racks. I’m almost positive most of you have some kind of dress that you only wear sometimes because it isn’t particularly practical for daily use. Well, it’s your birthday so throw practical to the wind! I went with my Valentines Day ensemble minus the pumps. Because it was my Birthday, not Mike’s.

2. You can give your guests a drink, but don’t try to get them drunk.
Aside from the fact that getting your guests completely wasted is a bad idea for safety, legal, and social reasons (remember that party where someone got drunk and decided to declare their love for the Birthday boy in front of his girlfriend? Yeah, me neither.), having more than a few drinks on hand for people is just expensive. You know what’s not cheap? Decent booze. You know what you shouldn’t even bother spending your money on if you want everyone’s evening to remain vomit free? Cheap booze. I can not BEGIN to stress this enough–buy enough good booze that everyone could have a drink, maybe two, if you even buy booze at all. Because you’re definitely not obligated to provide anyone with anything, and you certainly can have a dry party. Now, if you’re celebrating elsewhere, the booze situation isn’t your problem. We ended up elsewhere for the night, but rest assured that we had a 12 pack Great Lakes Sampler and a bottle of wine, and that was it. We were prepared!

(Another good reason to not serve your guests too much booze is the reduced risk of property damage. Years ago I knew a guy who got so drunk that he went outside to throw up and killed a shrub. By puking. Don’t let your friends be that guy.)

3. I don’t care what anyone says, everybody loves board games.
This one’s pretty self explanatory, but I can’t imagine cheaper entertainment than a rousing game of somewhat drunken Scrabble (not to be confused with completely sober Scrabble, which is fun, but far less creative). One of the best Birthday parties I ever had involved about ten of my favorite people and a game called “In a Pickle.” It’s a good way to go.

Don’t pretend you’re too cool for board games. We both know that’s not true.

4. Bake your own damn cake!
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Doesn’t that look yummy? I made that! And boy oh boy do I wish I’d come up with that recipe so I could give it to you and receive all your love and admiration, but it was from a cookbook written by this lady. If you search for “mango cupcakes” you’ll find the cake, but not the icing. The icing is part of the cookbook, and the book is very worth having.

Now, if you’re not particularly crunchy, I’m sure you’re happy with that…”cake”…you can buy in the…”bakery”…section of any major grocery store. Go ahead. Enjoy your hydrogenated oils and eight different kinds of sugar. Go have a few fig newtons while you’re at it. If you’re crunchy though (and you know, have a high enough opinion of yourself to feed yourself something decent on your own Birthday) you want to do better.

If you aren’t broke, you can go to a place like this and order the most yummy-tastic vegan baked good in the history of baked goods. You could also go to an honest to god bakery and still do much better than that…”cake”…you were considering in the grocery store. I’ve eaten at both places. They taste like joy and are well worth the price…if you’re only getting a cupcake or a muffin. Do you have any idea how five bucks per cupcake translates when you’re trying to order an actual cake, though? Oh yes, it will be a fine cake eating experience, and for it you will pay dearly. WITH YOUR IMMORTAL SOUL. Or like, forty bucks.

I can’t afford that, so I made my own. They tasted heavenly, were kind of gourmet, and my dad can’t stop eating them. Hahahahaha–joke’s on you dad! Those are actually good for your heart! But uh, don’t chase them with bacon maybe and lay off the soda because I mean, you know, diabetes and all that being a thing in America…

The cake philosophy can actually be used to cut all sorts of expenses such as “cut your own damn fruit” and “chop your own damn veggies” and “make your own damn dip.” If you’ve gotta feed your guests, a little extra work helps a ton.

5. Try not to think about it too much

I’m a big believer in Birthday’s being the only day out of the entire year where you are given a complete pass to not give a @#%$. Seriously, get what you need done, and go have a good time! Don’t worry about the food, your clothes, how much fun your guests are having, or any of that. Have fun, eat yummy food, and have a few drinks (if you want). What’s important is being with the people who make you happiest, because any excuse to do that is an excellent one.

I’m not going to even lie, I usually have really, really awesome Birthdays even though I’m almost always completely broke. Why? I use the list! Hooray for the list! So you should use the list, too. It’s a well known fact that receiving a really awesome list from a really awesome Birthday Girl is a good omen. It’s been documented and everything, you know.

Happy Monday, readers. 🙂