vegan cake

San Fran-iversary weekend

I realize this post is hardly timely.  We didn’t get back from the city until Monday evening and then I worked two nights in a row though…sooo…what can you do?  Truthfully, my weekend recaps are my own selfish way of documenting our memories forever and ever.  If others enjoy them, great! 

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So let’s back track to Saturday.  I was recovering from a few night shifts so we kept the day mellow.  I ate at odd times and didn’t get close to capturing everything I ate on film.  Did you know sleep deprivation can make you eat up to 20% more than your normal caloric intake?  It doesn’t surprise me at all.  Thanks to the combo of being up all night and breast feeding I feel like I’m a bottomless pit. 

Anyway, I may as well skip ahead to Sunday because that’s when the fun started.  I went to bed super early to attempt to catch up on sleep (I’d been awake for over 36 hours at that point) but still woke up at 7 am on Sunday.  Time to get the party started! 

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After a cup of coffee and finalized packing, we all loaded into the car to drive to San Francisco for the day/night.


Why?  To celebrate 3 years of marriage!  [Also, why not?] 

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We started with brunch at Brasserie S&P, located in the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in downtown SF.  I got the crab benedict, Kyle got the fried egg sandwich (with the bacon on the side). 


Pretty sure I won this round.  That hash in between the two open faced pieces of toast was like a sheet of tater tots.  Who doesn’t like tater tots?  College dorm cafeteria flash back! 


We also shared fresh bread dipped in olive oil and a pot of decaf (Kyle’s going caffeine free and his detox is brutal right now – headaches aplenty).  FYI, Brasserie S&P has both soy and almond milk available, which is awesome, but the waitress brought me soy when I requested almond.  Oh well. 

After brunch we made our way down to the Exploratorium at Pier 15.  They just recently moved into their new location (with much more space) and I’ve been looking forward to geeking out ever since.

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Science is cool!

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Obviously P is on the young end of the spectrum, but it was still fun seeing him take everything in.  He’s probably gonna be a huge nerd just like his parents.

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PACMAN!  Kyle was one day behind in wearing his matching shirt… [wait for pics from Monday]

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An hour or two into our fun we stepped out so I could nurse P (they had rocking chairs looking out onto the water…so nice) but got our hands stamped so we could come back…because I was also feeling thirsty/snacky.  Rather than get something at the Exploratorium cafe (which I later found to be really impressive) we walked down to Pier 3 to Plant Cafe Organic.  I got a trilogy Kombucha (they were out of their tap Kombucha) and Kyle got a strawberry almond milk date smoothie.  I had a sip and it was fantastic.

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Afterwards we went back to the Exploratorium.  Once we saw as much as we could, we decided to head to the hotel to check in.


But not before a stroll through the Ferry Building…

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My sneaky sneaky husband had a vegan and gluten free cake to pick up as a surprise for me! 

I had no idea he was paying attention when I mentioned Mariposa as our brunch spot for the next morning, but apparently he was more than aware of their awesome (allergen free) creations. 

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We were on the 25th floor of the Westin, but who cares about the view when there’s football on tv!!


More anniversary surprises from Kyle’s parents 🙂


We dug into the chocolate covered strawberries immediately, but saved the champs for after dinner. 


We played around in the room for a while and then got changed for dinner.


Gotta take advantage of the non-90 degree weather to put him in his adorable little hoodies. 

Dinner was at Triptych, a short walk from the hotel.  They have numerous vegan, vegetarian, and gluten free options (all noted on the menu). 

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Kyle started with the wedge salad, I got the crab cakes. 

Even though I wasn’t super excited when they arrived (fried food, meh) they were deeeelicious and didn’t feel heavy and gross like fried food normally does. 

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Kyle got the butternut squash ravioli, I got the special of the day (salmon wrapped in a corn husk with fresh organic summer vegetables).


Holy moly.

I was on the fence because their vegan options all sounded so good, but this was amazing.  The fish was cooked perfectly, and the vegetables were bursting with fresh flavor.  It was exceptional. 

We both left completely satisfied.  Fortunately, the walk home helped our stomachs out because we needed to make room for cake! 


But before we got to that, we had to do P’s bedtime routine.

We didn’t get a separate room or suite or anything, so we were really just hoping for the best in terms of him sleeping while we stayed up.

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The room ended up having a closet door that could be left open partially blocking off the front entry way, so we put his pack n play there.  As per usual, he got a bath, a bedtime story, and then I nursed him until he dozed off.  I put him in the pack n play and he went right to sleep. 

We waited a few minutes for him to be really asleep before we turned on the tv.  Movies cost $16 though!?!!?  WTF!  That’s kinda insane. 

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We thought we were so crafty remembering to pop the champagne befpre putting P down, but then we realized we didn’t have any silverware or way to cut the cake.  Womp womp.

Kyle managed to creep past the pack n play and slide out the front door to go get stuff in the lobby.  Meanwhile I snuck into the bathroom (also located an inch from P’s crib) to shower.  The kid was sure tuckered out from our adventures because he didn’t even budge an inch with all our comings and goings.

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Cake!!!  OMG.  This cake.

I can’t believe how good it was.  Yum yum yum.  Kyle’s mind was also blown and he straight up admitted he wasn’t sure how good it would be.  Even if it weren’t free of wheat/gluten, dairy and/or eggs I’d say it was great…no qualifiers necessary.  This cake was the real deal.  And I’m not usually a frosting girl!  We both licked our plates and went back for seconds.

And afterwards I still felt light as a feather!  No GI issues whatsoever! 

After a glass or two of bubbly it was time for bed.  Long day…zzz…


Monday morning we walked back to the Ferry Building – this time for the oh so essential Blue Bottle coffee.  Every time I wait in that line I think it’s ridiculous and every time I taste my first sip I remember it’s not ridiculous at all.  Their java is the. dang. best.  Kyle and I each exclaimed such at least 10 times while drinking it. 


For food we went back to Mariposa.  They have a lot more than cake to offer.  Not that eating cake for breakfast would be a crime.

I couldn’t decide between sweet or savory (actually I really wanted to try everything in front of me – gluten free focaccia, rolls, bagels, pretzels, etc!!) so I got a couple of things.  ADD ordering at it’s finest.


A toasted bagel for now.

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And a cinnamon roll for later.

Kyle got the breakfast sandwich on a (gluten free) roll with smoked salmon, cream cheese, arugula, and onions [hold the cucumber, obvi]. 

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It’s the order I would have gotten myself had the cream cheese been dairy free.  Looks pretty phenom.  He said he wished it had an egg on it, but they don’t have a kitchen.  Aside from that he said it was awesome. 

I have to agree.  Mariposa makes the most unbelievable GF breads!  Nobody would ever guess they didn’t have wheat.  I wish I lived near them to try all their products, but I think it’s probably better for my wallet that I don’t.  It’s already a challenge when I go to the Co-op because they carry a few of their treats…just not the bread items.  Hooray for local places doing yummy things.


In the end, my simple cinnamon raisin bagel was actually the perfect order.  Warm and crispy and doughy with melty sunbutter.  Mmmm…


Look at all the stripes.  🙂


After breakfast we walked along the Piers heading up toward Fisherman’s Wharf and Pier 39…


We stopped along the way so I could nurse P.  Just found a random bench – not a bad view huh?

The weather could not have been more gorgeous, too.  SF is rarely so warm and sunny and perfect, but on this particular weekend the sky was clear (fog free!) and there wasn’t even much of a breeze.  Warm and lovely with scenic beauty as far as the eye could see.


We made it to Ghirardelli square where I changed P’s diaper and we took some family photos.  Can you believe it, I actually managed to NOT buy chocolate!?!  It’s only because I already had a big stash back home (and a cinnamon roll tucked away for later).


Gah!  The cuteness!  My loves. 


We met up with a friend for a little bit (random timing that worked in our favor), but eventually headed back so that we’d be able to watch the America’s Cup races.

The time trials have been going on for the past month and it’s really getting down to the wire now.  The winner of these last two teams (New Zealand vs. Italy) races against the US in the finals.  We soaked up the fancy country club ambiance (holy rich people and their yachts!) and then saw the kiwis race across the finish line.  They go fast!!


Then we decided it was time for lunch.  :) 


Where else would we go for our last meal in the city? 

Plant Cafe, duh. Kyle got the plant burger with cheese and avocado and I got the kale salad with tempeh.


Neither of these orders were first timers for us, but you don’t mess with perfection, right? 

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We also split a kale, almond butter, and banana smoothie (“split” in quotations since Kyle hogged 80% of it). 

After lunch we went back to the hotel, packed up, and headed home.  I had a chocolate chip cookie from Mariposa while Kyle drove. 


Fortunately I had a veggie casserole in the fridge so I didn’t have to do any cooking for dinner.  Aside from frying an egg to pair with it and adding avo (always).

P was seconds shy of a meltdown from all the activity and lack of napping, but we got him down just in time to enjoy a few moments to ourselves. 

I had two huge slices of leftover cake for dessert.  To 3 happy years!!

A day in the life…

Of a very pregnant (over 40 weeks and counting!) lady…on maternity leave…

Wake up 4+ times throughout the night.  Finally get up for good some time between 6-8 am.

Drink weak tea with almond milk and maple syrup.  Wonder how much longer til you can guzzle caffeine again.


Make breakfast #1.  A bowl of oats with nut butter & bananas.  I usually have half the banana at a time since it seems to give me reflux now (realistically everything does). 

Play on the computer.  Respond to emails and blog comments. 

Make & prep food or meals for the day/week (but never too far ahead just in case it’s go time).


Make breakfast #2.  A fried egg with toast and Earth Balance.  I can’t go a single morning without an egg or something piled high in Earth Balance.  They are the two things that have been consistent through all 10 months.

Digest on the couch while watching the morning shows on mute or reading (yes I really put on the news but keep it muted – this way I feel in the loop but don’t have to listen to 99% of the crap & I can simply turn on the volume in case anything I think I might care about comes on).

Do something moderately mildly active, like walking or yoga.  My walks are between 45 – 70 minutes.

Once I get home I bounce on the exercise ball, hoping gravity will do something in the way of bringing on labor. 



Make lunch #1.  Carrots & red potatoes roasted with coconut oil and dried thyme. [Note: I only had 1/3 of the above portion]

Do random errands.  Browse the internet for restaurants I can’t afford.  Do a crossword.  Pass the time. 


Make lunch #2.  Quinoa with avocado and tempeh “bacon”.  I added nooch after the photo, too. 

Lounge on the couch.  Blog.  Respond to emails and comments.

Continue food prep and planning.


Make dinner.  Quinoa and kale salad with candied nuts, dried cranberries, and a miso lemon dressing.

Veg out with Kyle.  Watch TV.  Chat. 


Eat a small dessert.  50% of the time I’m in the mood for chocolate and 50% of the time I want another savory snack.  I only had half of this Fabe’s vegan brownie (super soft and chewy) at once [chocolate doesn’t give me reflux but I can’t eat much before getting horizontal].

Which brings me to…bed time.  Zzzzz.

*As you can see, the common denominator is small portions.  I hate it.  I’m used to getting heaping platefuls and going back for seconds.  I’m soooo looking forward to chowing down once I have some space again.

A family shower

I (semi) promised my G-ma that I’d post about our baby shower (although you’ll notice I made no such promise about how timely the post would be).


[Me + G-ma]

In truth, I didn’t take my camera because I was just going to soak up all the fun and family time.  But my aunt, cousins, sister, and mom did SUCH an outstanding job with everything – from the decor to the food – that I feel compelled to share.  I’ll include a vegan/gluten free dessert recipe, too (so it’s worth your while to read).


iPhone photos will have to do 🙂


As you can see, there was a nice spread, with plenty of vegan/vegetarian options.


This pizza had fontina cheese, grilled onions, and arugula.


The pizza on the left was your basic mozzarella cheese pizza, while the pizza on the right was the vegan option.  My cousin used an artichoke and tomato based spread, so it was more like a flatbread.  It was really yummy, so I may have to copy her technique in the future.

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Someone enjoyed slicing! [Hey Marie, who are you texting back there?]

Moving on to the pasta courses.


Some kind of chicken fusilli pasta salad.  I thought it looked pretty good even though it had chicken.


Bowtie pasta with lemon basil pesto, chickpeas, and tomatoes.  This gets a thumbs up from me!


Salad with spring greens, pears, dried currants, crushed walnuts, and Girard’s white balsamic dressing (goat cheese on the side for the lactose free folk).  This was one of my favorites of the day.

Before I get to the desserts, I should probably mention the drinks and apps.

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I’m skipping the alcoholic stuff that left me drooling (I am demanding someone bring me a mimosa in the recovery room after labor ok?? <—just humor me, I’m obviously not serious).

The appetizer scene was everything you’d expect.  Sabra hummus (roasted red pepper and classic) with pita chips.  Trail mix (that Ivy picked all the M&M’s out of), and roasted nuts.  And veggies with ranch dip (the dairy free one was made with Follow Your Heart vegan sour cream).

As for the bevvy you see above (almost the highlight of the day, second to the amazing love and generosity of my family members), that would be a home-made ginger limeade.  My cousin gave me a verbal recipe, which included brewing chunks of fresh ginger in a pot of water, straining them, and combining the (cooled) ginger water with limeade.  She brought a few bottles and I really could have drank all of them myself.  So so good.


Now back to the desserts.

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I didn’t try any of the above (cookies, cheesecake, & peanut butter fudge), because of these vegan and gluten free brownies…


Many thanks to Gwyneth Paltrow for her Fudgy Chocolate Brownies!

The recipe is from her book My Father’s Daughter: Delicious, Easy Recipes Celebrating Family & Togetherness which I’ve already discussed here.

Gwyneth Paltrow’s Fudgy Chocolate Brownies [vegan, gluten free*]


  • 2 cups white spelt flour oat flour (certified GF)
  • 1 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
  • 1 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup brown rice syrup agave nectar
  • 1/2 cup strong brewed coffee
  • 1/2 cup soymilk almond milk
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips, divided


Heat oven to 350°.

Sift flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and a pinch of salt into a bowl.

Whisk maple syrup, oil, brown rice syrup, coffee, soymilk and vanilla in another bowl.

Fold wet ingredients into dry ingredients.

Pour half the batter into a greased 9″ x 11″ baking dish; top with half the chips.

Pour remaining batter into dish and top with remaining chips.

Bake until knife comes out with crumbs adhering to it (30 minutes).  Let cool.

My mom topped them off with powdered sugar just because.

*spelt flour is not considered GF in the US, so use certified GF oat flour

I know I’ve already said the salad and the ginger limeade were my top choices for the day, but these were also totally fabulous too.  Slightly delicate to cut, but definitely melt in your mouth soft – almost cake-like fluffy.  I took home a few leftovers and have been enjoying them ever since.  You need milk with them because they are the kind of dessert that is so moist (cringe) that it sticks to the roof of your mouth.  I’ll be sad when they’re gone.

And now some extra photos from the day, just for fun.

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[Marie + Me + Mom, before the shower when we were at my G-ma’s and I was in comfy clothes]


[Me + my cousins, aunt, & sister, the shower hostesses]


[For my baby hippie!]


[Kyle’s mom + sister]


[Lesley + Finn (look how much he’s grown up from his first blog appearance!)]


[“Modeling” the diaper dude]


[Baby Uggs from my sister in Australia – cuteness overload!]


[My G-ma’s reaction when I asked her to pose for a photo]


[And how I’m getting my revenge 🙂 – hope you got a restful snooze G-ma!!]

Somebody pinch me.  This is all too much.

Assorted eats

Not a very glamorous title, but it’s all I’ve got.  Explanations following the things that I think need them.


Dinner and the next day’s lunch (for Kyle). 


Pumpkin sage ravioli bob-bob-bobbing their heads up to say hi.

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Minimalist toppings include olive oil, parmesan, & peas.


Vegan carrot cake.  I froze it after our baby shower.  The cake part was good, the frosting wasn’t my fave.  FYI, this cake is made by Fabe’s and sold by Whole Foods.  It’s gluten free and vegan, so the fact that the cake part was good is all the more impressive. 


My favorite thing about this was that the cake was studded with golden raisins and there weren’t walnuts to pick out (it’s so rare for carrot cakes to be walnut free, so this pleased me to no end).  I only ate about 10% of the frosting though.  Too much frosting!


These are all the flavors included in the KIND gift boxes.  Kyle keeps trying to steal them all.  He’s swiped two so far…


This is the Dark Chocolate Cherry Cashew flavor, which he stole from my purse.  Ordinarily he doesn’t really like cherry flavored bars so I thought it would be a safe one to bring with me, but the dark chocolate trumped the rest of the ingredients.  He said it was good and he noticed more of a cranberry flavor than cherry, so that’s that. 

The other one Kyle tried was the Dark Chocolate Cinnamon Pecan.  He noted that he had never really had a cinnamon flavored bar before and thought it was really unique and tasty. 


This Dark Chocolate Nuts & Sea Salt was my fave of them all.  It’s a new flavor and it’s pretty much dessert in bar form.  I love salted chocolate.

Ok, I take that back, the Cashew & Ginger Spice tied for top spot.  It was like I took a bite into the holidays.  We all know I adore ginger, but this bar had a more mellow gingerbread-like spice blend.  It made me want to try making candied cashews with gingerbread seasonings.  I still might have to do that. 

The only KIND bar that is still unclaimed is the Almonds & Apricots in Yogurt.  Neither of us are especially keen on trying it, but I’ll let you know if Kyle gives it a shot (since his food reviews are so informative).


Breakfast muffin quiches.  I ask Kyle every night (as I am packing his lunch for the next day) if he’s getting sick of them, but he never does. 

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They are the cheapest and easiest thing to make.  I use leftovers grains, veggies, and eggs (and Chobani plain 2% Greek yogurt instead of cheese this time) and that’s it!  He is such a savory breakfast person.  I wish he craved coffee cake and French toast and big sugary muffins so I could make big batches of that stuff to share, but alas, he just will not get on board. 


Another batch of crock-pot applesauce.  This stuff is fantastic.  Especially for how little effort it takes. 


It yielded two of these.  I’ve been enjoying them slowly…savoring the apples since it seems like I only tolerate them when they’re cooked.  I miss the crunch of them, but in the cold winter months I have no problem eating them like this.  Sometimes I warm up the applesauce for dessert.  It’s like pie filling.  🙂


Heel pieces of bread are my fave.  I save them til the end so I can make a heel only sando.  This loaf of WF light white gluten free bread will probably be my last for a while.  The expense is too much to justify.  I am determined to make my own gluten free loaf.  I got a GF bread baking cookbook for Christmas so there are baking trials on the horizon…


Not fizzy, not flavorful, not worth the $.  I was hoping this High Country brand would be good since it’s less pricey than the GT brand (my fave), but no such luck.

Old to new

You all know I’m frugal.  And that I like re-working leftovers.  This is not news.

So when Alene & Ethel sent me home with extras from the shower, I was really excited to transform them into new dishes not have to cook for a while.


Orzo salad with sun dried tomatoes.


Quinoa with edamame, kale, and tomatoes.

Both of these dishes made their way into the weekly dinner plan immediately.


Since the orzo salad had an Italian/Mediterranean flavor profile going on already, I just added to it.


Cubed some (drained, uncooked, firm) organic tofu and tossed it all together with organic spring greens.

Ordinarily Kyle’s not a huge tofu person, especially when it hasn’t been cooked or disguised in a any way, but in salads like this one (and this one) it kinda replicates feta in a way that makes him cool with it.  Me, on the other hand?  I’m a-okay with the flavor and texture of tofu straight from the pack.


Old to new!  Easy as that!


I also added in extra dressing (a simple blend of olive oil and white balsamic vinegar) to get the greens coated nicely.  I’ve been really into salad dressing lately, especially Italian ones.  It’s definitely not something I’ve always been a fan of – I’m usually more of a hummus or Bragg’s aminos as “dressing” kind of girl.  But I’ve always loved semi-wilty salads.  I know that sounds bizarre, but the more massaged, the better.  Accordingly, I dressed this salad while making it, and let it sit (~30 minutes) until dinner time.  FYI, I’m the same with cereal.  Soggy all the way.


On the side we had steamed haricot verts (aka the fancy French name for green beans).  I had to google the plural of that word just now.  I took Spanish and we all know how horrible my French skills are.

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The quinoa edmame dish got it’s turn later in the week.


Rainy weather combined with dark gloomy skies makes me want warm dishes for dinner, so I turned it into a stir fry.


I charred the quinoa and edamame significantly before adding in 3 eggs and then scrambling it all together like a veggie fried rice dish.  Minus the rice.


Added a touch of soy sauce and called it a day.


And that’s not even the last of the shower food


Making Kyle’s lunches has been especially easy thanks to these cute little Caprese skewers.


Which I paired with another Italian/Mediterranean inspired sandwich. 


Leftover tofu enhanced pesto and Sabra roasted red pepper hummus on sourdough. 


And the cake!  Glorious (vegan) carrot cake!