Tuesday, December 28, 2010

My Vegan Baking Adventures 1

I think everyone who loves sweets should enjoy sweets, so I am doing all I can to hone at least a few flavors that will be delicious vegan and gluten-free options available from the Sweet Shop (our in-progress online store project!)

Because I figure there are a pretty good number of you who may not know anything about vegan baking, that you, much like me, will be interested to know some of the different tricks & pitfalls.

So- hey, I have a blog, why not keep you all up to date on this adventure as it progresses, AND for those of you that do know a thing or two, or MORE about vegan baking- I'd deeply appreciate your comments & suggestions!!

Today was ingredient gathering day. I mean if you're gonna make a vegan cake, you can't just go butter & egging it up- whole different process to create moist, delicious cake with out a stitch of dairy/animal by-product.

Armed with my recipe, I headed to the market.....ok, margarine? Really? Easy!! I've used it before at some point, I can handle that...hmmm, hit my first wall. None of this SAYS "margarine"...so many "spreads",  lots of "65% oil" labels (so what the heck is the other 35%??)...and not a dang thing is going to help me enough to just clearly say VEGAN on it, is it? I'm still looking...

Mind you, I live in West LA, land of MANY, MANY vegans...but this is a baking journal for people living everywhere, so I did not just go straight to wholefoods (which by the way, I may just do on the next batch), but hit up a local Ralph's...so the selection was Imperial, Blue Bonnet, I Can't Believe it's Not Butter, and about 4 others~

So I start reading ingredients...first one- "whey (from milk)" um, not vegan. Second one, buttermilk, also not-vegan....finally I see the top of one of em DOES say VEGAN! YAY!! So here's what I ended up with:

Smart Balance Certified Organic 100% Vegan "whipped buttery spread"

Step one, complete- now to bake the cake!!! :o)

Monday, December 27, 2010

Eggnog Banana Bread

Ok- I know, we've been nog-crazy over here all week. Well, we also had some super ripe bananas so Nate suggested we whip up a batch of Christmas day banana bread. My usual recipe calls for buttermilk, which we didn't have- but we had eggnog, of course, so here's how it went:

Preheat the oven to 350.
In a medium mixing bowl, beat 2 large eggs, add 1/3 cup eggnog and 1/3 cup veg oil- mix until all are well combined. Mash up 4 bananas. Mix into egg-nog-oil mix. Add 1/2 cup brown sugar & 1/2 cup white sugar and mix. In a separate bowl, sift together 1 3/4 cups flour, 1 heaping tsp baking powder and 1/2 tsp salt.
Slowly mix the dry flour mix into the banana-y mixture. Crush up  & stir in a couple big handfuls of pecans or walnuts if you've got em (and if you want a nutty banana bread).

Pour batter into a 9x9 pan that's greased & flour'd.
Bake 45 minutes or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.


Saturday, December 18, 2010

Holiday Pancakes

Christmas morning is only a week away!! In the fervor of present opening, coffee brewing and all kinds of holiday cheer- what are you making for breakfast???
Here is an easy and festive idea that gives a classic favorite a seasonal twist, Eggnog Pancakes!! YAY!!!

In the bakery, we make EVERYTHING from scratch- so if you are down with that you can use this pancake recipe that we love CLICK HERE FOR RECIPE. If you do, follow the recipe- but instead of buttermilk, use EGGNOG, then add a pinch of cinnamon and a pinch of nutmeg.

If you're short on time and would rather curl up in front of the fire with your family, Bisquick can make a good easy pancake too!! Follow the recipe on the back of the box, but do 3/4 cup Eggnog, and 1/4 cup milk, use a little less than the 2 cups Bisquick (start with 1 1/2 cups and then add the last half cup as you mix until you get the right consistency- since the nog is thicker than milk you'll use less Bisquick)- add the pinch of cinnamon & pinch of nutmeg and you'll be good to go!!

Wanna do this with a side of bacon?? Preheat the oven to 350 before you start mixin up the cakes, cover a cookie sheet with foil (all the way up all four edges) and lay bacon flat over the foil. Bake for about 20 minutes or until bacon is as crispy as you like it!!

PS- You've probably still got some nog left, right? So brew up that pot of coffee you'll definitely need since it's pretty likely all of this started before dawn if you've got kids, and instead of milk or cream, top your cup-o-joe off with some eggnog- you're so festive. It's awesome.

Happy Holidays!!!

Friday, December 17, 2010


As always, I headed over to Shutterfly.com right around Thanksgiving and started to gather photos from 2010 to make our annual holiday card. I have so much fun creating this card every year, because I spent a whole weekend reviewing the year in photos...this card captures two of my favorite vacations- the bottom right with Leela and Arthur is from our New Years Eve stay in Mammoth, the top left corner with Arthur enjoying his road-trip-freedom, and the bottom left pic of Nate & me in San Francisco are both from our annual LA to SF PCH road-trip. In 2009 we didn't take the doggies on that trip because there was a wedding at one end of it, but this year they came, they camped, we loved it.
The top right corner photo of Leela basking in the sand was taken at one of our (and her) favorite places to spend the summer- Dog Beach in Huntington Beach, CA. My cousin Nick was visiting from Ohio, so we all met up at dog beach for a day of surf and sun.

Anyway- today, I finally finished stamping & sealing them all up, and wanted to share this card with all the Sweet Life readers too!!

So....HAPPY HOLIDAYS from BETH, NATE, LEELA & ARTHUR and may your 2011 be Merry and Bright!!

Vintage Snowflakes Holiday
For hundreds of holiday card designs, click here.
View the entire collection of cards.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Party Time!!

Just a little sneak peek at the fun going on in the Sweet Life Kitchen! We are getting ready to unveil all kinds of AWESOME updates, including easier ordering for the sweets you see here :o)
In the mean time if you'd like to order cake pops, pie pops, brownie bites or cookies for a football get together, birthday or the holidays email info@sweetlifekitchen.com for ORDER details :o)

These pretty cake pops were made with love AND a few of my FAVORITE Wilton products- I don't know what I'd do with out Wilton's lollipop sticks. I should probably buy stock because I make lots of on-a-stick sweets and go through these by the case-load. The pretty-in-pink pops are a combo of two sensational
Wilton supplies~ First I bought their white candy melt discs, and then to get the perfect shade of HOT pink- I used the Wilton GARDEN CANDY COLOR set, spectacular for custom color creations.

Wilton products can be found at their website, along with a TON of fabulous inspiring ideas, tips, tricks and information!!
CLICK HERE to visit their site today and get going on a fun pop-project of your own!!

Have a DELICIOUS weekend!!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Have yourself a merry little....

It's raining in L.A. right now, like REALLY raining.
The thing that makes this more than a-ok is that it was getta-Christmas-tree-weekend here!! One of my favorite weekends of the year, it's the perfect time to stay in, snuggle up (hey, you wanted an excuse to wear that snuggie from the office gift exchange anyhow, right?) and deck the halls.

On a recent trip to Trader Joe's I snagged some Pear-Cinnamon cider, which was perfect with the pouring rain & a tree waiting to be decorated. We're big fans of their yummy apple cider, that is easy to make into a perfect hot party punch.
Good news, the Pear-Cinnamon cider rocks, we warmed some up and enjoyed the rainy night!!

This time of year is all about a little planning ahead to make nights like this one extra festive....
Have some easy appetizers ready to rock (by stocking some simple staples) and always keep crackers & almonds on hand, easy to create a cheese plate to make the apps into a spread! I suggest stocking up on this cider, and some Cupcake Vineyards Malbec (inexpensive & yummy).

Here's a few preparation-pointers that make it a snap to entertain with no notice~

Cheese-Cranberry goodness for entertaining:
Two items you can keep in the fridge for most of November & December are an 8 oz container of cream cheese & a container of Trader Joe's cranberry orange sauce.
Pour 1/2-2/3 cup of the cranberry over the cream cheese & serve with crackers.

Chicken Apple Sausage Puffs

1 box puff pastry, thawed (keep a box in the freezer all through the holidays- it only takes about 40 minutes to thaw and 30-45 minutes to make this easy appetizer)
4  chicken apple sausages from Trader Joe's (the regular grocery store has it too, just costs more!)- you'll have a leftover sausage & 32 puffs- or just use 1 sheet of pastry and 2 of the sausages for 16 puffs & have the other sausages for later!

Pre-heat the oven to 400
Cut each sausage into 8 pieces
Cut each sheet of puff pastry into 16 squares
Place a piece of the sausage in the center of a puff pastry square and fold the corners into the center- pressing the corners together so they seal together.
Place the little wrapped up sausage bites a baking sheet covered in foil- bake 30 minutes or until golden brown- cool for 10 minutes and server warm.

Happy Holidays!!

Thursday, December 2, 2010


In case you didn't know....we've made some SUPER SWEET changes around here!!!

For the past three years this blog has been my happy place, and I've had so much fun sharing it with every single one of you~
Now, it's time to take that one big giant sugar-coated step further and bring you our very own Sweet Shop, and newly decorated (just in time for the holidays) www.sweetlifekitchen.com .

Don't worry, I will still continue to update the blog, as always and you'll be able to click the BLOG tab on the Sweet Life Kitchen's home page to find all the latest here just like you have since it all began in 2007.

At the moment, we are looking forward to a very exciting December and hope you will be with us through every bite!! Stay tuned, beautiful packaging, sensational specials and of course- what I know so many of you have been waiting for.....SHIPPING, will be coming soon, in early 2011. We're working hard to do this all as quickly as possible, but also want to do everything just riiiiiight, so thank you for your continued love, support and patience!!

We require 7 days advance notice for all orders, just a heads up, and we're overwhelmed (in the best way) with holiday orders at the moment, so if we aren't able to fill yours this holiday season, remember.....Valentine's Day is right around the corner!! LOL!! :o)

Don't hesitate to email us with any questions, any time!! info (at) sweetlifekitchen.com
We'd love to hear from you!!