Sweet Aha! Vegan Cupcakes

Sweet Aha! Coconut Lime Cupcake

You know it’s a beautiful morning at the farmers market when the sun is shining, the birds are singing, and vegan cupcakes are calling your name.

Sweet Aha! is an all natural, 100% vegan, organic, non-GMO bake shop. Their unassuming booth features a weekly rotation of various flavors of cupcakes, muffins and cookies. Pictured above is the Coconut Lime cupcake.

Sweet Aha! Coconut Lime Cupcake

So moist and fluffy! And it’s not super sweet either as they try to use a minimal amount of sweetener (unrefined evaporated cane juice sugar). The texture is spot on. Excellent flavor combination too, the coconut goes really well with the lime.

Sweet Aha! Chocolate Mint Cupcake

A couple of other cupcake flavors is the Coconut Lemon (pictured in the back) and the Chocolate Mint. I never thought I would say this, but the best part is the frosting. It’s so light and just the right amount of sweet.

I remember a time long ago before I was vegan when I would actually scrape off frosting because it was so sickeningly sweet. Not so with a Sweet Aha! cupcake, I would get one just for the frosting. It’s that good. The cake part is good too but the frosting is extraordinary. Easily blows away any other cupcake I’ve ever tried.

Sweet Aha! can be found at the College of San Mateo Farmers Market on Saturdays and at the Inner Sunset Farmers Market on Sundays. I haven’t tried the muffins or cookies yet. I’m already anticipating indecision on what flavor cupcake to try next.

Copycat Amy’s Veggie Loaf Dinner

Copycat Amy's Veggie Loaf Dinner

For the longest time, one of my favorite frozen meals was the Amy’s Veggie Loaf Whole Meal. It was my go-to meal. Always reliable, easy to find, I liked the taste and there’s no crazy ingredients.

Visiting family and they all want to eat at the local steakhouse? No problem, I just pop an Amy’s meal in the microwave, scarf it down and I’m all set if the restaurant has nothing to offer me but a pitiful dinner salad or very plain baked potato for dinner.

Happily, restaurants have caught a clue and usually offer some sort of vegan option so it’s been awhile since I had to turn to an Amy’s frozen dinner for substance. But now I’m sad to see honey in the Veggie Loaf meal, I don’t remember it being in there before. It’s a bummer but also an inspiration to make my own copycat version.

As a starting point, I used my Mini Savory Lentil Cupcakes recipe. It already has many of the same ingredients listed on the back of the box. A few tweaks here and there and voilà, a vegan copycat Amy’s Veggie Loaf Dinner.

Veggie Loaf Dinner
Makes 4-6 servings

Veggie loaf
1 small leek, white and some of the green part, chopped
4 fresh shiitake mushrooms, chopped
1 small carrot, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
1/4 cup broccoli florets, chopped
1/4 cup petite green peas
2 cups cooked and seasoned lentils
2 handfuls panko breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons tomato paste
Sea salt and pepper to taste
Oil to grease pan

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl, mash the lentils. Add in the rest of the ingredients and salt and pepper to taste. Mix well.

In a well-oiled 8.5 x 8.5 inch square baking pan, pour in the lentil mixture and pack into the pan, tightly pressing into the bottom. Bake for about 30 – 40 minutes until browned and pulling away from the edges. Allow to cool completely before removing from the pan.

While the veggie loaf is baking, make the mashed potatoes and gravy using your favorite recipes. I added a bit of tomato paste to the gravy for the color but brown gravy works too.

My First Cookbook

Vegan Cinnamon Toast

I got my first cookbook in grade school, Peanuts Cook Book, cartoons by Charles Schulz with recipes by June Dutton. It was one of those Scholastic books that you order through the public school; so excited when the box of books finally arrived in the classroom and so impatient for the teacher to pass them out.

I found the book while cleaning out some old things at my parent’s house. Just flipping through it brought back all sorts of memories. Apparently, I liked to write my name in my book and circled the recipes that sounded good. I suspect I really got it for the cartoons – interspersed with the recipes are food or eating related Peanuts comic strips.

Peanuts Cook Book

The only recipe I remember making is Security Cinnamon Toast, using either the toaster or the broiler. I’m pretty sure I went with the toaster method since I made it all by myself without any supervision – after making the toast, spread with butter right away and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar. Today, it’s whole grain toast and vegan butter, but still super easy and diy-kid-friendly.

Scrambled Tofu with Stewed Tomatoes

For fun, I veganized Sally’s Scrambled Eggs with (or without) Stewed Tomatoes. It was not one of the circled recipes, I can’t imagine wanting to eat canned stewed tomatoes as a small child. With a kitchen counter overflowing with fresh tomatoes, there’s no need to reach for the canned stuff. And with tofu instead of eggs, there’s nothing left of the original recipe but the idea – stewed tomatoes actually goes really well with scrambled tofu.

Do you remember your very first cookbook? How about your first vegan cookbook? Mine was The American Vegetarian Cookbook from the Fit for Life Kitchen by Marilyn Diamond (vegetarian is in the title, but it’s also vegan). Though it has fallen along the wayside now that there’s a seemingly endless stream of new vegan cookbooks hitting the market. An embarrassment of riches of the best kind.

Scrambled Tofu with Stewed Tomatoes

Scrambled Tofu
There’s no shortage of scrambled tofu recipes in cookbooks or online, use your favorite or the basic recipe below.
1 package extra-firm tofu, well drained, pressed and crumbled (I used a tofu press)
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
Salt and pepper to taste
Black salt (Kala Namak) – optional

Heat a skillet to hot and add a little bit of oil, swirl to coat the pan. Add the tofu and then the spices, cook to your desired level of doneness. Sprinkle with black salt if using.

Stewed Tomatoes
1 1/2 cups garden fresh cherry tomatoes, diced
1 celery stalk, chopped
1/4 small white onion, chopped
1 tablespoon of butter
Sugar to taste
Salt and pepper to taste

In a skillet, heat the butter. Add the onion and celery, cook until translucent. Add the tomatoes, sugar, salt and pepper. Cook over low heat for about 10 minutes.

Top the scrambled tofu with the stewed tomatoes and serve immediately.

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