Sanctuary Potluck / Dad’s 50th Birthday Cake

We volunteer at Cedar Row Farm Sanctuary as often as we can.  The primary reason is it’s such an amazing place for animals and we want to help out in any way we can, but the bonus is the fact that there’s a vegan potluck for all the volunteers at the end of each work day!  And these potlucks never disappoint.  I didn’t even capture half the food, since it was sprawling over several tables and stuff just kept being added even after I finished taking photos.  There was more desserts and a big pot of carrot soup, too.

Maple-walnut cupcakes (which were SO GOOD), chocolate loaf, lemon cranberry loaf, fudgy brownies.
Watermelon, Brooklyn Deli Mac salad (from Veganomicon)

A bean and chickpea salad, dips, pita triangles

Raw “egg” salad, pita pockets

Pita pockets and an awesome Moroccan grain salad

My plate

My dessert plate.  Also with a peach pie and ice cream!

Later that day (it was a busy day), we had a surprise party for my dad’s 50th birthday.  I made him a peanut butter and jelly cake!  I used the simple vanilla cake recipe from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World but doubled the recipe and split between two cake pans, and increased the baking time to 40 minutes.  Then I made a double batch of the peanut butter buttercream frosting from the same book.  The filling was a seedless strawberry jelly!  It was a hit and I’ll be making it again.

It got devoured pretty quickly.  

– Crystal

Overnight Oats

My new “thing” for breakfast is this overnight oat recipe.  I had tried a few different recipes which had different ratios, no yogurt, less yogurt, no chia, etc., and not loved them.  This one to me is perfect and keeps me going until lunchtime and beyond.

The recipe:

  • Equal parts old-fashioned oats, non-dairy milk, and non-dairy yogurt (I quite like Amande vanilla in this context) — I generally go for 1/3 cup each
  • ~1/2 tbsp chia seeds (optional, but it adds nutrition and a really nice texture)
  • A dash of cinnamon and a tiny dash of salt

At night before bed, get your bowl ready.  Mix it all up, pop it in the fridge, and in the morning you’ve got creamy, fluffy oatmeal that’s nice and cool, which is so nice in the summer.

It does well topped with some granola or a bit of crunchy cereal for a contrast of textures, and I always put a scoop of peanut butter (or any nut butter!  Healthy fats!) and usually a 1/2 a banana or some strawberries.  Local strawberries are amazing right now, like little juicy pieces of candy, so I’ve been loading up on those.

After a breakfast like that, you’ll be able to go forth and conquer pretty much anything.  Paired with the beet/apple/cucumber/grapefruit juice here, I am practically able to leap tall buildings and save babies from burning houses.

– Crystal

African Peanut Stew

Piping hot with a good dose of extra Sriracha hot sauce on top.

Okay, so this isn’t authentically African, but I like to call it that because when I think of luscious, spicy, peanutty stew I think of what little I know of Pan-African cuisine.

This recipe came to me from a PPK member.  I can’t remember who and I’m pretty sure it’s long gone anyway.  So, if it’s yours, good work!  And let me know so I can give you credit, since this is your piece and your instructions.  This one is too good not to share.

Infact, it’s more of a method than a recipe.  It’s pretty hard to screw up, though, so even if you’re a novice cook, give it a go.  You’ll have yummy, filling leftovers for days!  We’ve made this so many times with great success each time.

Peanut Stew

Olive oil (~2 tbsp)
1 small onion
Any or all of the following: carrot, potato, sweet potato
A few cloves of garlic (3-5 work well)
2 cups vegetable broth
1 28oz can stewed tomatoes (any kind – even with basil works!)
A few large handfuls of chopped greens (spinach, kale, collard greens, beet greens – whatever you’ve got!)
Red pepper flakes or hot sauce
A splash of soy sauce
A splash of vinegar (apple cider, sherry, or red wine work the best)
A big spoonful of something sweet (some sugar, stevia, maple syrup – I’ve even used apricot jam)
A big heaping 1/4 cup or so of peanut butter

Start by sautéeing the onion and garlic in some oil at the bottom of a large pot.  Once they onion has softened and the garlic has become nice and aromatic, add in the chopped root vegetables.  Sautée them for a few minutes until they get a nice little bit of crispiness.  Then add in both the vegetable broth and the canned tomatoes.  Let simmer, covered, until the vegetables are soft (I think it ends up being about 10-20 minutes, depending on how small the chop of the veggies is.)  Once the vegetables are soft, and the soup has thickened a little, throw in your big bunches of greens and stir.  Then add your splashes of soy sauce and vinegar, your hot element, your sweet element and your peanut butter.  Taste and adjust flavorings until it’s completely delicious to you!

It ends up being nice and thick, almost like a curry.  It’s great, filling and nutritious on it’s own, but could also be served over rice, or with bread.  It’s great with some more seasonings, too – cumin, coriander, chili powder, cayenne.  And you can literally add almost any veggies to this – I’ve thrown in frozen peas (at the end), green beans, cauliflower.  This is just such an easy, and intuitive recipe – and it lasts forever, and is a complete meal in a bowl!


And look!  A new patch on my apron!  Chicks do dig vegans.

– Crystal

Peanut Butter Criss Cross Cookies

Hey there, do you like cookies? I like cookies.
If I could, I would eat them every day. These ones here are something special. I think everyone’s mom or grandmom used to make something like these Peanut Butter Criss Cross Cookies from the book Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookiejar. They make me feel nostalgic.

We gave a few of these to some non-vegans and they came back for second helpings, so I think they passed the omnivore test. Hurry up and make them before the cost of peanut butter rises 40%!
Have them with a glass of non-dairy milk of your choice!

– Trevor

Healthy Peanutty Brown Rice Bowl

Sometimes we just want something nourishing and comforting – a big, layered bowl of varying textures and tastes, tied together with some sort of sauce.

From the bottom up, this was a layer each of:

  • Baby spinach
  • Brown rice
  • Steamed broccoli
  • Crispy panfried tofu

Topped with my creamy spicy peanutty sauce.  So good!

I’m going to write down proper measurements sometime for this so I have something to give you that’s more concise and easy to follow, but if you’re the type to whip up stuff to taste in the kitchen, the sauce is:

  • Peanut butter (about 1/4 cup)
  • Soy sauce (about 4 tbsp)
  • Sesame oil (about 2 tsp)
  • Rice vinegar (about 2 tbsp)
  • Lime juice (a squirt to taste)
  • Sriracha hot sauce (to taste – we like it hot, so several squirts!)
  • Water to thin out to a nice drizzleable texture 

Appetite for Reduction has some great ideas for multi-layered bowls.  Yum.  Makes a great weeknight meal!

– Crystal

Peanut Butter and Chocolate Cake

Sorry for the delay!  Between a busier-than-usual schedule for both of us, and me having a lovely bout of seasonal blues, it’s been hard to muster up the motivation to update ye olde blog.  But we certainly haven’t stopped making food in the meantime!

It was my baby brother’s 21st birthday last week, and to mark the event I made him a cake.  It was chocolate, with a peanut butter buttercream filling and topped with chocolate buttercream.  It was awesome.  The peanut butter and chocolate buttercream recipes were from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World – if you don’t have it, buy it.  Along with lots of pairs of stretchy waist pants.

The recipe for the cake is originally from VegWeb.

Super Moist Chocolate Cake

    1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
    1 cup white or brown sugar
    3 tablespoons sifted good quality cocoa
    1 teaspoon baking soda
    1/2 teaspoon salt, optional
    5 tablespoons canola oil
    1 tablespoon white vinegar
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    1 cup cold water


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a bowl, combine flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, and salt; mix well. Make three deep holes in the dry mixture. Into one hole, pour the oil, into the next hole, pour the vinegar, and into the final hole, pour the vanilla.

2. Pour the water into the bowl, over all. Mix the wet and dry ingredients together until there aren’t any more lumps and pour into an ungreased 9×9 baking pan, 2 inches deep.

3. Bake for about 30 minutes, test with a fork.

Makes: 1 – 9″ x 9″ cake, Preparation time: 15 minutes, Cooking time: 30 minutes

This was the first time I attempted to write a message on a cake…squiggly!

– Crystal