MINI Thanks!

My beloved, recently-acquired, neglected-in-a-previous-life, 2012 MINI Cooper has been in the shop quite often since we bought “him” used. Ringo has been a bit of a problem child, but so far most of the issues can be attributed to a failure to keep up routine maintenance by a previous owner. Besides, he’s so handsome, I’ll forgive him a lot.


At any rate, we have been very pleased with the mechanics at the shop who are doing the work for us, and feel like they have really gone the extra mile to work with us in getting the car brought up to speed.

As a gesture of appreciation, I wanted to make them a special cake to say “thanks”. If you’ve seen my previous post regarding cakes, you know this is something that I am just beginning to be interested in. I baked my first “grown up” cake a few weeks ago, and now I just want to do more and get better at it.

To make this cake more personalized, I wanted to add the MINI logo. Since my piping skills are kind of non-existent at this point, I thought it would be cool to create the logo in chocolate, as a topper. A little research turned up this Castin’ Craft, which is FDA approved and can be used to create your own molds for casting just about anything, chocolate included!


I found the product very easy to work with, and after making a practice mold of a sunburst, I was ready to make my MINI emblem. Fortunately, I had a keychain I could use to make the impression. The mold only has to set up for about 20 minutes, though I did let it sit a little longer. When done, the silicone is pliable and rubbery and the keychain popped right out. I rinsed the mold and dried it, added my melted chocolate and let it set. The chocolate also popped out easily. I added a little edible silver metallic paint to more closely resemble the actual emblem, and aside from my messy painting, I think it turned out really well.

I’m still experimenting with frostings, and though the frosting was perfect on my practice cake the day before, this time, it was extremely dry and didn’t do well, at all. So I whipped up a different recipe for the piping and I liked it much better! I will try frosting with it on the next chocolate cake I make.


It’s not as close to perfect as I would like, but that’s okay! I learned a lot, and I’m looking forward to my next experiment! I already have plans for a special St. Patrick’s Day cake!


Berry Easy

If you are looking for something quick and nutritious for breakfast, a snack, or (like me, this evening) for dinner, consider this: A toasted plain bagel, delicious dairy-free plain cream cheese from Kite Hill, and fresh fruit. I sprinkled a little chia seed for extra nutrients. And, because February is heart health month, it’s important to note: it’s all cholesterol free, thanks to the almond-milk-based cream cheese and accidentally vegan bagels from Costco!

Vegan Southern Cream Cheese Cake

I’m not a cake maker. For that matter, until a few years ago, I wasn’t a maker of anything. Last week, I decided I was going to make a nice cake. I turned to YouTube, watched a few videos, ordered a few “must haves” from Amazon,  and got started. I had a beautiful inspiration cake, but created my own recipe, using a mashup of recipes I found on-line. Technically, my cake isn’t an Italian Cream Cake, because, as Tad pointed out, I’m not Italian. But it is a tasty, moist cake with a lot of toasted pecans, toasted coconut, and cream cheese icing. I guess we can call it a Southern Cream Cheese Cake.

My cake doesn’t look a whole lot like the inspiration because I need to work more on making icing for piping. I learned a lot, and hope to make more cakes in the future. Nothing too elaborate, just good, classic cakes.


Southern Cream Cheese Cake

Vanilla Crazy Cake (One 8” round or square layer)


1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp white vinegar
5 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 cup water
1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

1.     Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt in a greased baking pan.

2.     Make 3 depressions in the dry ingredients – two small and one large. Pour the vinegar and vanilla in each of the two smaller depressions, and the vegetable oil in the large one.

3.     Pour water over the entire thing and mix until smooth.

4.     Bake on the middle rack of the oven at 350 degrees for 35 minutes. Let it cool, then top with your favorite frosting and enjoy!

*This is supposed to be a one pan recipe, but since I doubled it for two layers, I used a large bowl for mixing. There are several flavors of Crazy Cakes, I love the chocolate one! Be sure to look them up.

For the Southern Cream Cheese Cake, I added approximately one cup of shredded coconut and about 1.5 cups of toasted pecans into the batter, stirring in after all the other ingredients were mixed.



•1 pound (4 cups) of Powdered Sugar

•1/2 cup Butter

•8 oz. Cream Cheese*

•3 teaspoons of Vanilla


1.Beat cream cheese, butter and vanilla in a mixer until blended.

2.Add powered sugar a cup at a time and continue to mix until sugar is incorporated.

*I used Kite Hill Almond Milk Cream Cheese. To finish the cake, I covered the sides in Toasted Coconut and the top in Toasted Pecans.

Please leave a comment if you try my recipe!




Zucchini Brownies

Another winning recipe from Esther’s Kitchen!

Brownie lovers, you are in for a delicious treat. We are serving up Zucchini Brownies today! Has anyone had Zucchini Brownies? These brownies are gooey and can be made oil free for those folks eliminating oil from their diets. If you make these oil free, the brownies will taste more like cake. The brownies in the photo are oil free and made with walnuts. The batter will be very thick. Keep stirring. The batter will come together. If you want to make these gluten-free, use GF …flour blend and add 2 chia or flax eggs to the batter. Enjoy! ~Chef Linda

Zucchini Brownies

Cuisine: Esther Approved, GF option

Prep including Bake Time: 35 minutes

Serves: 8″x8″ pan or 9 brownies

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2-3/4 cup organic granulated sugar, adjust to your taste

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup vegetable oil or melted coconut oil (optional)

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup shredded organic zucchini

1/4 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Spray a 8″x8″ baking pan or line the bottom with parchment paper.

2. Add all the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl. Stir by hand with a spoon.

3. Add the zucchini, vanilla extract, oil and almond milk. Stir until the batter with a spoon until the batter is smooth. Keep stirring. The batter does come together. If your zucchini is not wet, stir in an additional 1-2 Tablespoons of almond milk.

4. Pour the brownie batter in the pan.

5. Bake for 20 minutes or until the center is done by using a toothpick test.

6. Cool and slice into 9 pieces.

Check out these other Esther Related Facebook Pages:

Esther the Wonder Pig

Happily Ever Esther Farm Sanctuary

And, follow Esther’s Kitchen here!


Coconut Pecan Oatmeal Cookies – Esther Approved!!

On your journey towards an Esther Approved lifestyle you will come across some things that leave you awestruck about new culinary techniques. Growing up we were taught to make cookies by creaming the butter, sugar, extract and eggs with an electric mixer. How many times did we reach in the fridge and realize you were out of butter or eggs? Another trip to the store. Right? As you change over your pantry ingredients with Esther Approved substitutes you begin to realize this is easy. It’s learning a new way of baking and cooking just as you learned the old way. For our Coconut Pecan Oatmeal Cookies you only need mixing bowls, a wooden spoon and cookie sheets. These cookies are crispy on the outside and chewy in the middle. Let’s celebrate National Oatmeal Cookie Day without the raisins because we don’t want Esther to have trust issues thinking they are chocolate chips. ;)~Chef Linda

Coconut Pecan Oatmeal Cookies

Cuisine: Esther Approved

Serves: 3 dozen

Prep including Bake Time: 35 minutes

2 flax eggs-2 Tablespoons flax meal mixed with 6 Tablespoons water, allow to gel for 10 minutes

1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce

1 cup organic granulated sugar

1/2 cup organic brown sugar

1 cup Earth Balance, melted

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

2 cups spelt or all purpose flour

2-1/2 cups rolled oats

1 cup dessicated coconut

1/2 cup pecans, finely chopped

1. Set the applesauce aside. Make your flax eggs in a small bowl and set aside.
2. Melt the Earth Balance on the stovetop or in the microwave. Add the vanilla extract and flax eggs. Stir to combine and set aside.

3. Combine the remaining ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Stir the dry ingredients with a wooden spoon. Stir in the melted butter mixture for a few minutes until the cookie dough is combined. Stir in the applesauce until the dough is moistened completely.

4. Line 3 cookie sheets with parchment paper.

5. Using a soup spoon, spoon 12 dough rounds onto each cookie sheet. Bake for 12-14 minutes at 350F. Allow the cookies to cool on the cookie sheet before transferring onto cooling racks. The cookies will slowly crisp up on the cookie sheet which will allow you to transfer easily onto the cooling racks.

You can follow Esther’s Kitchen on Facebook, here.

For the Facebook feed of Esther the Wonder Pig, click here.

You might also enjoy Happily Ever Esther Farm Sanctuary, here.

It’s National Sticky Bun Day!

Sharing another winning recipe from Chef Linda of Esther’s Kitchen!

 It’s National Sticky Bun Day!! Hooray! We’ve been looking forward to this day so we can share Esther’s Mini Sticky Buns. These buns come together in under an hour. If you have made sticky buns you will know that sometimes they are hard to get out of the pan. Our method will give you wonderful results. Enjoy! ~Chef Linda 

Esther’s Mini Sticky Buns 
Cuisine: Esther Approved 

Serves: 12 mini buns 

Prep including cook time: 1 hour 

Preheat your oven to 350F. 
Place a small mixing bowl on the top of the oven. 

Dough Ingredients 
2 Tablespoons Earth Balance buttery spread

1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk 

1-1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast

1/4 teaspoon pink Himalayan sea salt

2 Tablespoons organic granulated sugar 

1 Tablespoon flax meal (do not use seeds)

1-3/4 cup all purpose flour plus 1 Tablespoon for dusting work surface 

Rolling pin

1. Place the Earth Balance and 1/2 cup almond milk in a microwaveable bowl. Microwave on 30 second increments until the buttery spread is melted. 

2. Pour the heated almond milk and buttery spread in a food processor or electric stand mixer with dough attachment hook. Add the remaining dough ingredients. If using a food processor, turn it on and use the dough button. Process the dough for about 3 minutes or until a dough ball forms and spins around. Turn the food processor off. If using an electric stand mixer, turn the mixer on medium and mix until a dough ball forms. Turn off the mixer. 
3. Place the dough ball into the warm mixing bowl. Wet a paper towel or cloth towel with hot water. Wring out the water and place the towel over the dough. Let the dough rise slightly while you make the filling. 
Filling Ingredients 
1/2 cup organic light brown sugar 

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon 

1/2 cup finely chopped pecans 

2 Tablespoons melted coconut oil 

1. Combine the filling ingredients in a small mixing bowl and stir until combined. 
Dough Roll Assembly 

1. Spread the 1 Tablespoon of flour on your work surface. 

2. Roll out the dough into a rectangle that measures 9″ x 12″. Use a ruler for accurate measuring. 

3. Sprinkle the filling evenly into the dough rectangle. Press the filling lightly into the dough. 

4. Starting from the 12″ length, tightly roll the dough into a log with the seam side down. Using a sharp knife, cut the log into 1″ pieces. Use a ruler for accurate measuring. 

5. Spray a 9″ round baking dish. Place the buns in the baking dish on top of the stove. Cover the buns with a warm towel while you make the Sticky Topping. 

Sticky Topping Ingredients 
1/4 cup organic light brown sugar 

1 teaspoon vanilla extract 

2 Tablespoons coconut oil 

1 cup pecan halves 

1 Tablespoon molasses or corn syrup 

1. Add all ingredients in a small saucepan. Heat the ingredients on low heat until the sugar and coconut oil melts. Stir constantly with a metal spoon to prevent scorching. Turn off the heat and pour this sticky sauce over the buns. 
Bake the sticky buns for 15 minutes at 350F. Remove the buns from the oven. Grab 2 plates. Place one plate over the buns. Invert the buns onto the plate. Remove the baking dish. Place the second plate over the buns. Invert the plates so the sticky pecans are on top. 
This method prevents the sticky buns getting stuck to the bottom of the pan. The traditional method for making sticky buns is placing the sticky mixture on the bottom of the pan then the buns are placed over that mixture. 

Note: If you want stickier buns, double the Sticky Topping Ingredients but only use 1 cup pecan halves. Walnuts will also work for this recipe.

For more information on Esther, visit, or like her page on Facebook. Also, be sure to follow Esther’s Kitchen on Facebook for more wonderful recipes like this!!

Esther’s Friendship Cake

My blog has been defunct for quite a while, however, I have discovered a new use for it. Here, I’m sharing a recipe, so that it can be easily pinned. The recipe is from Esther’s Kitchen, and Chef Linda is amazing. They don’t yet have their website set up for sharing recipes, so maybe this will be helpful to us Pinterest fanatics! You can learn more about Esther and her inspirational life at
Esther’s Friendship Cake – From Chef Linda of Esther’s Kitchen

Cuisine: Esther Approved  

Serves: 8×8 cake

Prep including Cook Time: 1 hour

Cake Ingredients

1 cup organic granulated sugar

1 cup all purpose flour

1 Tablespoon chia seeds

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon pink Himalayan sea salt

1 (16 oz) can crushed pineapple, undrained

Preheat the oven to 350F. Coat a 8×8 baking dish with cooking spray.  

1. Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl with a spoon. Stir until smooth.

2. Pour the cake batter into the prepared pan.

3. Bake for 30-35 minutes. While the cake bakes, begin to evaporate your almond milk.

4. Method for frosting the cake-Remove the cake from the oven and immediately pour the hot frosting over the hot cake. Spread the frosting evenly over the cake. The milk will absorb into the cake. Allow to cool before slicing. Store covered in the refrigerator.

Frosting Ingredients

3/4 cup evaporated almond milk(see recipe below)

1/2 cup organic granulated sugar

1/2 cup desiccated coconut

1/2 cup sliced almonds

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 cup Earth Balance buttery spread

1. Once your milk has evaporated to half way below the scald line to the bottom of the pot (20 minutes), stir in the granulated sugar and Earth Balance into the milk. Cook on medium heat for 5 minutes. Stir in the coconut, almonds and vanilla extract. Turn the heat to warm or low to keep the frosting hot.  

2. Pour the hot frosting evenly over the cake. Use the back of a spoon to spread out the frosting.

Evaporated Almond Milk Ingredients  
1-1/2 cups unsweetened almond milk

1. Pour the almond milk into a medium size pot. Cook uncovered over medium heat for 20 minutes. Stir occasionally. The milk will evaporate to a half quantity that will yield 3/4 cup evaporated milk for the frosting recipe.

Maybe later I can figure out how to share a printable!