Monthly Archives: January 2012

Decadent Merlot Cherry Brownies

Tie on your favorite apron, pop open a bottle of merlot, and fire up the oven. It is time to take brownies to a whole new level.

Just make sure you do not forget the cherries, ice cream, and chocolate sauce. Ohhhh, yes…

How I could have forgotten about this recipe for 4+ years is beyond me. My mom used to make this recipe all the time to impress visiting directors at work or to give as gifts. No one could stop at just one. Or two. Or three. I think you know where I am going with this…

In fact, I was ready to wax poetic about my first love in this post but decided that it would be cruel to make you read through my heartbreaking story when all you can think about is brownies. I really cannot blame you, seeing as these brownies have already disappeared with only 2 people eating them.

That is less than 24 hours since I made them, folks. People really do crazy things when these brownies are involved.

No one will know these are vegan, let alone healthy if you so choose. And if you make these brownies this Valentine’s Day, do not be surprised if people start falling madly in love with you, at least while the brownies are around. Simply sit back, relax, and enjoy the love.

Merlot Cherry Brownies 

Makes 1 tray

  • 1-1/4 cup (6oz) dried cherries, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup merlot wine
  • 8 oz semi-sweet dark chocolate (I used 1 block of Baker’s), chopped
  • 1-1/3 cup flour (ww pastry, spelt, buckwheat, and AP GF are all great options)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup dry sweetener (i.e. NuNaturals stevia baking blend, organic sugar, coconut sugar, date sugar, etc.)
  • 1/3 cup Earth Balance OR coconut oil, softened
  • 1 TBS Ener-G egg replacer + 4 TBS water OR  2 TBS ground flax seed + 6 TBS water
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • dash cinnamon
  1. Preheat oven to 350*F. Line 9×5 brownie pan with parchment paper and spray with cooking spray.
  2. Combine dried cherries and wine in a small bowl. Microwave for 1 minute. (Heat on the stovetop if you prefer.) Set aside for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Drain cherries and discard wine, saving ~1 TBS to stir into batter later, if necessary.
  3. Place chocolate in a small bowl and melt using a microwave or double boiler. Once fully melted, set aside and cool to room temperature.
  4. Combine flour and salt in a small bowl.
  5. Beat dry sweetener and Earth Balance/coconut oil with a mixer.
  6. Add egg replacer/flax egg to the mixer and beat until light and fluffy.
  7. Add melted chocolate and vanilla extract. Beat until well-incorporated.
  8. Stir in flour mixture until evenly distributed.
  9. Stir in drained cherries and ~1TBS reserved soaking wine, if needed to loosen the batter. It should be VERY thick.
  10. Spread mixture into prepared pan.
  11. Bake for 33 to 37 minutes. A toothpick inserted in the middle of the brownies should come out slightly sticky.
  12. Cool and cut into bars.

What is your favorite Valentine Day treat? 

Have a lovely day!




Put a Little Sunshine in it

As someone who lives for hot, sunny weather, winter seems to drag on and on. This year I was even deluded into thinking that maybe, just maybe, there would not be any snow. Those days of sunshine, breezy 50* “heat,” and green grass were really devious, making me believe that winter had decided to sit this one out.

But it happened; yes, it finally happened. As much as I wanted to think that winter was  not coming this year, early Saturday morning I was greeted by Old Man Winter himself. So I dusted off my Ugg boots, squeaked through the freshly fallen snow, and greeted the glistening wonderland with a smile on my face. Truth be told, I will always have a special place in my Midwestern heart for the beauty of the changing seasons, freezing weather and all.

That said, I would not be able to get through winter without a few tricks up my sleeve. Hot yoga “Hawaii” is my little escape during the day…and at night? The warmth of my cozy kitchen provides the perfect escape for my warm weather dreams.

Feeling particular inspiration the other night, I ventured into my freezer in search of a taste of summer. Fortunately I found a bag of frozen pineapple, strawberries, and peaches that were so sweet and succulent—perfect for muffins!

In under an hour, my kitchen was perfumed with the smell of fresh orange zest and rich coconut milk. There were no sugar plum fairies dancing in my family’s heads; I put a little sunshine in it instead!

Tropical Sunshine Muffins 

Makes 12 muffins

  • 1-3/4 cup + 2 TBS spelt flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 flax egg (1 TBS ground flax seed + 3 TBS warm water + a few minutes to gel)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar OR 1/3 cup sucanat OR stevia, to taste
  •  3/4 cup canned coconut milk (lite or regular will work)
  • 1/4 cup orange juice, freshly squeezed if possible
  • 3/4 tsp orange zest
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup frozen tropical fruit (or a mix of strawberries, pineapple, and peaches), cut in bite-sized pieces
  • 1 cup toasted coconut
  1. Preheat oven to 350*F. Line muffin tin or spray with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix brown sugar, flax egg, coconut milk, orange juice, orange zest, and vanilla extract.
  4. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients. Mix to combine.
  5. Stir in fruit and coconut (if using) until well distributed.
  6. Using an ice cream scooper (or however you prefer), place an even amount of batter in each muffin cup.
  7. Bake for 20-22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean.
  8. Bask in the sunshine, even if it’s just in your muffins…
I’m submitting this to this week’s Wellness Weekend @ Diet, Dessert, and Dogs.

How do you get through winter? Do you like snow? 

Have a sunny day!


Get Ready

I appologize if you have had any difficulties accessing my posts in the past few days. has been having some technical problems lately (photos posting, posts appearing, etc.), but they’re just about fixed. Fortunately, in the mean time I have been baking up a storm. Vegan samoas, tropical muffins, and more chocolate ginger cookies are coming up this week. Get ready!

The Weekend Send-Off: January 8, 2012

Hey, bloggies!

Is it really Sunday already? Where has the week gone?!

I’ve been a busy bee this week and even more so during the weekend! Even though chilling out with school books, pencils, and a calculator isn’t exactly my idea of fun, it feels oh so good to get things done. Mission accomplished.

Now that most of my homework is done, today I have plans to sleep in, be a tour guide for my school’s open house, practice yoga, and prepare meals for the week. If I’m lucky, there might even be some Modern Family watching involved. Have any of you seen the new episode that aired this week?

Anyway, since it’s Sunday, I thought it would be fun to do a little week + weekend recap inspired by Bonzai Aphrodite. My new camera had to take a little break this week because of the darkness problem (a light box is hopefully in my future!), but I plan to take full advantage of the sun tomorrow. Look out for a post on my recipe of the week!

[Still rocking out the Christmas tree!]

Le Love List:

  • Adorable alumni. The highlight of my week was definitely meeting an alumni that graduated from my school in 1936. (That makes him 95!) I helped him find his name on a stone pillar in the alumni courtyard and talked to him about his experience in the early days in my school. The look on his face when he saw the field he played football on so many years ago was absolutely priceless. Love.
  • Cooking with my grandmother. My grandmother instilled her love of cooking in me at a young age. Although I’m the “radical vegan” in the family, my grandmother is embracing vegan cooking for herself now, too. Black bean + rice bowls are becoming an easy favorite. They’re delicious, but what I truly love is the time with grandmother and the interest she shows in what I’m so passionate about. Love.
  • Gum. Truth be told, I have a thing for gum. It’s definitely one of my vices, but that’s okay. Chewing + blowing bubbles really helps me focus for some reason. With my busy schedule, I need all the help I can get. Love.

  • Yoga. Yoga makes me smile, and so does this videoLove.

What’s on your love list this weekend? 


Have a lovely day!