Make Your Own Vegan Dog Treats

Dog Treats for our Spoiled DogBack in May, we adopted the most amazing dog in the world.  His name is Louis, and we’re pretty sure he’s half Chihuahua half Pekingese.  And all adorable.  And most importantly for this blog, he is 100% vegan.

And today, we’re making vegan dog treats!  Our dog cannot get enough of these things.  And, because we spoil him rotten, we cannot get enough of giving them to him.  Oh well, at least we’re all happy.

Dog Treats for our Spoiled Dog

If you want to make Vegan Dog Treats, too, you’re gonna need:

1/2 cup soy flour
3/4 cup cornmeal
1/4 cup dried parsley
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, divided
1/4 cup canola oil
1 cup vegetable stock
2 tablespoons natural peanut butter

So now you’re going to:

1. Preheat your oven to 375°F.  Lightly grease two cookie sheets.
2.  In a large bowl, whisk together soy flour, cornmeal, dried parsley, and 1 cup of all-purpose flour.
3.  Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour in the stock and canola oil.  Mix until combined.
4.  Add peanut butter and additional 3/4 cup flour and mix with a wooden spoon until combined.  If the dough becomes too stiff to stir, use your hands to knead it until everything is thoroughly combined.
5.  Turn the dough out onto a clean counter, and use a rolling pin to roll out to 1/4 inch thickness.
6.  Use mini cookie cutters to cut out individual cookies and place them on the prepared cookie sheets.

Dog Treats for our Spoiled Dog
Dog Treats for our Spoiled Dog7.  Bake the cookies for 20-25 minutes, or until very well done.  Be careful not to burn them, but they can certainly get a little dark.
8.  Air dry on wire racks for at least 8 hours before serving.

OK, so let’s talk about these things.  First, you want to be sure to take the cookie size into account when baking.  If your dog is a bull mastiff, it’s totally fine to make really big cookies for him or her.  Just increase the baking time to 30 minutes or so.

Also, storage can be a little tricky.  In the summer in the South, it gets humid.  So humid, in fact, that these cookies don’t harden at room temp like they’re supposed to.  The first batch of these we made molded in their jar in less than a week.  The second ones, we baked a second time (a la biscotti), and had slightly better results.  This time around, however, we aren’t taking any chances.  After the 8 hour cooling period, we store these cookies in a tight-sealing jar in the freezer.

Dog Treats for our Spoiled DogThis seems to have done the trick, and our wacky dog seems to like the frozen treats even more than room-temperature ones.  So that’s what we’d recommend.  Just look at that happy, spoiled dog.

Dog Treats for our Spoiled DogAnd here, because I’m just sure that you want to see as much of Louis as I do, is a video I made of him eating these treats.  This was my first foray into film making/editing, and I know it’s not the best quality, but I think you get the picture.

Vegan Dog Treats for our Spoiled Chihuahua from Ian Grout on Vimeo.

OK, so I know that saying that my dog is vegan is a kind of hot-button announcement to make, and if you have any questions about how you can have a happy, healthy vegan dog, you’re welcome to email me at SugarbombBakery@Yahoo.com.  Please don’t, however, leave negative comments on this blog post.  I’d love to facilitate discussion, but I really don’t want to start an ideological battle.  So let’s all be nice, OK?  Thank you.

And, lest I take myself too seriously, here’s Louis one more time.

Y'all Come Back Now, Ya Hear?

Y’all come back now, ya hear?

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How I Spent My Summer Vacation

What I did on my summer vacation

Hey.  So you may have noticed that I’ve been a little absent for the last couple of months.  Well now I’m ready to start blogging again, and it occurred to me that I had three options:

#1.  Put up a blog post today about pie or something and pretend that this whole two month hiatus never happened.  OR

#2.  Write a little two sentence blurb at the beginning of said post describing how my life had been busy and blah blah blah.  OR

#3.  Do a blog post about where exactly I’ve been for the last two months.

Now, I know that, if you read this blog with any frequency back when I was posting regularly, you prob have noticed that I was gone and you may even be wondering why.  And it’s a given that my life has been busy for the last two months.   My life is always busy, as, presumably, is yours.  So just trying to write a simple sentence or two explanation seemed insulting to us both.  So here, at long last, is a detailed account of exactly what’s been going on the last couple of months.

What I did on my summer vacation

OK so back in the beginning of May, Amanda (my boss) and I decided to convert the retail shop where I work into a cupcake bakery.  We still sold our cupcakes and supplies, but the focus shifted from the merchandise to the cupcakes.  You may have seen this post describing the process.

What I did on my summer vacation

So what we hadn’t really considered realistically was that, while we were going to try to do the same amount of work in the shop, we were also going to become part-time professional bakers.  Which basically made for 60-70 hour weeks for me.  At first, it was so amazing to be baking professionally and seeing my cupcakes delight so many people that it didn’t even really matter that I never slept or spent any time with my boyfriend, my friends, or my amazing new puppy.  But it quickly became evident that I was neglecting large parts of my life.

Oh, and I stopped blogging.  It was pretty ironic that the time in my life when I was making more blog-worthy recipes than ever was also the time in my life when I was least able to write about any of them.  Hmmm.

What I did on my summer vacation

Another big development in my life around that time was that Jason changed jobs.  He had been working for a very corporate job that he wasn’t crazy about pretty much hated, and he finally decided that he needed to get out of it for his own sanity.  What does this have to do with blogging?

Well, Jason and I only have one car, and we both work about 30 minutes away from our house.  His old schedule had him going to work hours before me every day, leaving me sitting around coffee shops every day with lots of time on my hands.  Which was time I used to blog.  And after he changed jobs, it was time I used to sleep in.

It was awesome.

What I did on my summer vacation

The third, but by no means least important reason I stopped blogging was that summer arrived.  Have you spent much time in the South in the summer?  Well if you haven’t I don’t blame you!  It is hot as the dickens here in the summer.  For real, it’s oppressive.  So any baking that I didn’t absolutely have to do for work was completely out of the question.  And while it’s still hot here, the fact that I don’t have to turn my oven on if I don’t want to anymore makes the prospect of baking a lot more enticing.

What I did on my summer vacationAnd Amanda and I decided, after a couple of grueling months, that we were really in no position to continue baking at the rate we were.  So we’ve turned the shop into a bakers’ collective.  It’s been really amazing, actually.   You can read more about it here, if you want.  What I did on my summer vacationSo there it is.  And here I am.  I have survived the summer (or most of it, anyway) and lived to tell the tale.  And I am so inspired to start baking again.  And most importantly, I’m excited to be sharing stuff with you again.  If you are reading this right now, you make all the work I put into the blog totally worth it.  I’ve missed you guys, and I am so ready to get back in the kitchen!

Love,

Ian
Oh yeah, P.S.  Here’s a video Amanda and I made partially about the whole process I described above.  Please forgive the sound quality.  So there. 

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The Amazing World of Spam Comments

Image of SPAM taken from spam.comI love the spam comments I get on my blog posts.  If you do not blog, you are missing out on a whole world of grammatical errors and computer-generated engrish.  The comments range from the indecipherable to the accidentally wise or witty to the shockingly insulting.

One type of spam comments that cracks me up is the one or two line comment in which almost every word is misspelled or grammatically incorrect.  Here’s some examples of this type of thing:

“Remarkably.  Thanks you.”

“Good idea! Can be considered a learned thing, ok;”

“you’ve gotten an ideal blog here! would you wish to make some invite posts on my weblog?”

See, aren’t they great?  Another type of spam comment I really like is the really, REALLY long comment that is vague enough that it could pretty much relate to almost anything.  For instance:

“I just wanted to jot down a quick note to appreciate you for all of the great guidelines you are sharing at this site. My particularly long internet investigation has at the end of the day been rewarded with reputable facts and techniques to share with my partners. I would tell you that we readers actually are very much lucky to dwell in a magnificent site with very many wonderful people with very helpful concepts. I feel truly fortunate to have seen the web site and look forward to tons of more amazing minutes reading here. Thanks once again for all the details.”

“I’m impressed, I need to say. Really hardly ever do I encounter a weblog that’s both educative and entertaining, and let me tell you, you’ve gotten hit the nail on the head. Your idea is outstanding; the difficulty is something that not sufficient persons are speaking intelligently about. I am very happy that I stumbled throughout this in my search for one thing relating to this.”

So there are also the totally insulting comments.  I might love these most of all.  Here’s some:

“That is a super-peachy-keen post. Thanks for really blathering on like that! Seriously, I don’t think I could have spent more effort wishing for something heavy to fall on me to erase that nonsense from my mind!”

“How many people do you get on your site per day? I have been reading some of you content and i think its good but hardly anyone leaves any comments which makes me think your not getting much traffic? Check these guys out, they helped my site and i think they can help you achive your online goals (LINK DELETED FOR OBVIOUS REASONS).”

“Go kill yourself”

God, I love this stuff.  Full disclosure:  I also really enjoy bathroom graffiti and voice-activated automated phone menus.  For real.  And it seems to me that spam comments are sort of the best of both of those worlds.

OK, we’re almost done.  I think the most obvious spam comments are the ones like these:

“Hi Webmaster!! Check out this awesome WordPress plugin (LINK DELETED)”

“Yesterday, while I was at work, my sister stole my iphone and tested to see if it can survive a 40 foot drop, just so she can be a youtube sensation. My apple ipad is now destroyed and she has 83 views. I know this is totally off topic but I had to share it with someone!”

But the ones I particularly enjoy are the ones that ALMOST seem like real comments.  These are easy to fall for, but there’s usually a pretty obvious giveaway.  For instance:

“This is without question the most detailed content I’ve seen on this subject. Phenomenal job. Continue the good writing!” (LEFT BY USER NAMED “RINGTONES FREE DOWNLOAD”)

“Very good post. If there were more writers like you I’d have more websites to visit when I do go online. LOL.”  (USERNAME: FREE ROCKET SPANISH)

“Great post.  Can’t wait to try this!” (USER NAME: GOLD DIPPED ROSES.COM)

Then, there are the comments that just make you say “huh?”  Here goes:

Your article made me understand some things.”

“One day, Xiao Ming another class …. a sudden “rush”(fart) a cry;sitting next to a small U.S. scolded and said: Xiao-Ming Ah ~ if you could not make a noise.”

“Your website is like pie, they’re sweet and cute. I’ve just strolling from every web page to web page until I met naughty topic in this page. From first impression, I underestimate your topic ideas, but it is my fault, sorry for considering this (I advised you what I believed in my mind). Here’s my unhealthy habits, sorry to listen to that. Regardless that it was my bad sign for future, but I understand that my mind can be used for other experimental study with you. Please observe that I write this comment in response to true story, and you are the chosen one to make this decision. I want you to become my associate in desired subject, we are able to examine together with our skills, and you get the benefit by getting new ride with me. Sorry for giving my invitation on this remark page, but if you don’t mind, which you could give me your opinion about my comment, I’m desirous about creating your website as massive web site, so you can use it as your passive income.”  (UM, WHAT?  AND IS DESIROUS EVEN A WORD?)

And now, the piece de resistance.  This comment is my favorite for several reasons.  It is almost indecipherable on the first reading, it is really long, the user name is a clickable link, and it is totally insulting.  You ready?

“The core of your writing whilst appearing reasonable originally, did not sit properly with me personally after some time. Somewhere within the paragraphs you actually managed to make me a believer unfortunately just for a very short while. I however have a problem with your jumps in logic and one would do nicely to fill in all those breaks. In the event that you actually can accomplish that, I would definitely end up being amazed.”

You’d definitely be amazed?  Well, in that case, I’ll get right on it.  Oh, and incidentally, this was left on a post about pizza crust.  I can see how the commenter would have become a believer, even if just for a very short while.

All the spam comments above came from my blog, as well as the blogs of my friends Jen and Amanda.  If you’re a huge nerd like me and you want to share your own spam comment gems, I’d love to see them!

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My 30th Birthday Party

My 30th Birthday PartyLast weekend, I had a birthday party.  And, since my favorite thing in the world is vegan brunch, the party was a big, huge vegan brunch.  It was so fun!

Me on My 30th Birthday

When oh when will I learn that I have got to take pictures when I throw a party?  Thank God Amanda thought to take some, or I wouldn’t have any!  So here are some of the highlights of the party.

My 30th Birthday

Jason did all of the decorating, and he did an amazing job.  I told him that I would love it if the color theme was teal and red (my favorite) and he went all out!  He even spent a week making hand-sewn bunting!

My 30th Birthday PartyIsn’t it so cute?  So since he did all of the decorating, I decided to do most of the cooking.

My 30th Birthday PartyThe menu was:

Mini Muffins (mocha chip and blueberry)
Roasted Potatoes
Scrambled Tofu
Tempeh Sausage Pastry Puffs (I told you I always make them)
Coconut Chocolate Chip Pancakes (My sister loves these!)

My 30th Birthday Party
In the center of this picture is an Apple Tatin made by my sister, Alison.  In the left corner are biscotti (cranberry chocolate chip and gingerbread) made by Jason’s sister, Janell.  We are so fortunate to have such talented siblings!

My 30th Birthday PartyThese were glazed Mixed Nuts brought by my friend Julie.  I can’t tell you guys how good they were.  Lucky for us, she posted the recipe on her blog.  So go check it out!

My 30th Birthday

As you guys may or may not know, Jason and I just adopted a dog, Louis, last week.  So this was his first experience with entertaining, and other than some skittishness, he did great!

My 30th Birthday

And while we’re talking about new additions, here’s my niece, Cadence, at my party.  She seemed to have a very good time, and was all smiles most of the day.

My 30th Birthday

In addition to getting the whole yard decorated for the party, Jason spent weeks getting the garden in shape.  It has never looked better!

My 30th Birthday

I had such a nice day, and I was so fortunate to have spent my birthday with old and new friends, as well as the people I love the most.  I especially appreciate all of the work Jason did to throw this party for me!  I sure love that guy!

My 30th Birthday

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Come to my Birthday Party!

Hey Guys!

I’m having my 30th birthday party brunch this Sunday, May 22, and I’d love it if you’d come!  The food is guaranteed to be amazing, and there will be an amazing mix of family and friends both old and new.  It’s at our house in Canton, NC, and it goes from 11am to 4ish.  I would really love to see you so if you live near, please come by!

Brunch Invitation

Love,

Ian

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Chocolate Cupcakes with Raspberry Filling and Chocolate Ganache

Chocolate Cupcakes with Raspberry Filling and Chocolate Ganache

So for the shop this week, I more of a variety of cupcakes than I ever have before.  I thought I had so many tricks up my sleeve, but I totally exhausted my repertoire after about four days.  Not that I can’t have duplicates, but I’m really challenging myself to see how many different varieties I can come up with.

So this recipe is actually one that I made once before with OK results.  I decided to tackle it again, and see if I could get it right this time.  So if you want to make these Chocolate Cupcakes with Raspberry Filling and Chocolate Ganache, you’re gonna need:

1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup almond milk
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup canola oil
3/4 cup white sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

So you want to:
1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Line your muffin tin with silver foil liners.
2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Sift in the cocoa.  Seriously, you guys, sift it.  I wouldn’t say that if it wasn’t important.  Now whisk this mixture together for about thirty seconds, to make sure it’s evenly mixed.
3. Pour the almond milk into a glass measuring cup and add the vinegar to it. Let this mixture sit a few minutes, until the almond milk looks slightly curdled.
4. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the oil and sugar until very well combined. Add the extracts. Now beat in the curdled almond milk.
5. Slowly pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture and beat with a whisk until the batter looks very smooth. Don’t worry about over-mixing; it’s better to beat it until there are no lumps left.
6. Fill your baking cups two-thirds of the way full with batter (usually about a scant quarter cup of batter per cupcake).
7. Bake at 350ºF for twenty minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the biggest cupcake comes out mostly clean. A few moist crumbs on the toothpick are absolutely fine.

Chocolate Cupcakes with Raspberry Filling and Chocolate Ganache

OK, so the Raspberry Buttercream Recipe we used is based on one from Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero’s book, Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. Here goes:

1/4 cup nonhydrogenated shortening
1/4 cup margarine
2 cups confectioner’s sugar
1 tablespoon soy milk
3 tablespoons raspberry syrup, divided (the kind they use in coffee shops)
Drop of red food coloring (optional)

So now you:
1. Beat together the shortening and margarine with a stand mixer or hand mixer until it is all fluffy.
2. Sift in your confectioner’s sugar (and yes, you have to sift it. I know, it sucks, but you don’t want lumpy frosting, do you? No, you do not).
3. Beat the sugar and fats until, miraculously, the combine to form small, pebble-sized crumbs. This takes a few minutes — maybe five on the outside. Don’t be afraid to run your mixer that long, it loves it.
4. Once combined, drizzle in the soy milk, along with two tablespoons of syrup and, and beat for several minutes. If, in about three minutes, your frosting looks really stiff, add the third tablespoon of syrup. Beat for another minute or two, until it’s all nice and fluffy.
5. Taste your frosting. It should be smooth and creamy, with a fairly strong raspberry flavor. If it is not like that, add more raspberry syrup, about half a teaspoon at a time until it is awesome.  Now add a tiny, tiny bit of food coloring, if you want.  Totally up to you.

Chocolate Cupcakes with Raspberry Filling and Chocolate Ganache

Then, with the handle of a wooden spoon, poke a hole into the top of each cooled cupcake.  Now you’re ready to fill them.  The easiest way to do this is with a piping bag fitted with a small round pastry tip.  Pipe frosting in until it is even with the top of your cake.  Smooth the top, if necessary, with a spatula.

Chocolate Cupcakes with Raspberry Filling and Chocolate Ganache

So let’s make our Chocolate Ganache!  You need:

8 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 tablespoons nonhydrogenated shortening

So you’re going to:
1.  In a medium-sized saucepan, bring about a cup of water to a simmer.
2.  Place a heat-proof bowl on top of the saucepan, making sure it doesn’t touch the water.
3.  Add the chocolate and shortening to the bowl, and stir occasionally until it’s totally melted.
4.  Dip your cupcakes one at a time in the melted chocolate mixture, shaking off the excess.
5.  Place your dipped cupcakes in the freezer until the chocolate is set.
6.  Repeat this process, dipping each cupcake a second time.
7.  If desired, melt white chocolate chips using the same technique as above.  Add the melted white chocolate to a piping bag, and drizzle over the tops of all the cupcakes.  Place the cupcakes back in the freezer until the chocolate is totally set.

Chocolate Cupcakes with Raspberry Filling and Chocolate Ganache

These are super-delicious, and the people who bought them were really pleased.  I have also learned that the frosting recipes that I usually make are pretty heat-sensitive.  So, while I was perfecting a frosting recipe that could sit in a lighted display case all day without melting, these were a life-saver.  Because the melty frosting is inside the cake, and the ganache on top stays really firm, these are a great cupcake to bring to, say, a picnic where they will be in the heat all day.

Chocolate Cupcakes with Raspberry Filling and Chocolate Ganache

So go make these and be happy!

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Come on in to the New Cupcake Shop!

So I keep telling you guys about how we’re changing the Bake it Pretty shop into a cupcake bakery, but so far you don’t have any proof.  For all you know, I could be making the whole thing up as a clever ruse to explain away the fact that I have been blogging with an unforgivable lack of frequency.  Well, speculate no further!  Here, at long last, are some pictures of the brand new bakery.

New Cupcake ShopThat’s me behind the counter.

New Cupcake Shop
That’s a shot of the interior of the shop, to give you some perspective.

New Cupcake Shop
Our first day’s offerings.  The “Southern Culture”, “Salty Dog”, and the “Chocolate Cupcakes with Toasted Coconut” came from my bakery.  We had some very happy vegan customers who wandered into the cupcake shop assuming there wouldn’t be anything they could eat!

New Cupcake Shop

On the right is a close-up of the Southern Culture cupcakes.  The pink lemonade frosting was a big hit!

New Cupcake Shop

These were called “Inner Beauty,” and they were a chocolate cake with raspberry buttercream filling, and topped with a double chocolate ganache.

New Cupcake Shop This is a closeup of the “Salty Dog” cupcakes (you can find the recipe for them here) .  In the background, you can see the Chocolate Cupcakes with Toasted Coconut.  They were in black and white polka dot wrappers that were so cute.

New Cupcake Shop

Just look at that full, happy bake case!  We have learned a lot about running a bakery (already!), and I’m sure we’ll learn a whole lot more.  But we’re having such fun, and I can’t wait to share more with you guys.  Oh, and if you’re in the Asheville area, be sure to stop into Bake it Pretty to get some vegan cupcakes!

Love,

Ian

Oh yeah, P.S.  If you follow the Bake it Pretty Blog, you may recognize a lot of these pictures from over there.  Thanks to Amanda for letting me use them!

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