Monday, July 7, 2014

The Big Birthday Celebration of 2014...

All my tasty Birthday Treats! 

It’s been a rather busy week for me, not only was my birthday Tuesday - the 1st - but American Independence Day was the 4th and even more exciting as a birthday surprise my mom and step-dad flew in from Vancouver to visit me! I had no idea they were coming, and apparently they’ve been planning the surprise with my husband for nearly a year now. We’ve had a lot of fun over the past week, and we’ve eaten a lot of food, but let me start with what we ate on my birthday.

Kale Bagels 

The Sunday before my bday I decided to make the Kale Bagels from Joni Marie Newman and Celine Steen’s book “Hearty Vegan Meals for Monster Appetites.” I’ve been wanting to make these bagels for a long, long time, but the idea of making home made bagels - specifically working with yeasted dough - always seemed so daunting, but suddenly I had a craving, and there’s no better time to jump out of your comfort zone then for a special occasion.

Turns out making bagels is a lot easier then it looks. Time consuming yes, because you need to wait for the dough to rise, but relatively simple. These bagels first call for you to prepare some kale. It’s easy enough to do, just massage some tahini, orange marmalade, and other spices into your greens and let them sit for thirty minutes. Then you make the bagel dough, add in the kale, and let ir rise. Once risen shape into bagels, boil in a mix of water and baking soda, and then you bake until they’re perfectly brown. The end result was well worth my time and trouble, in fact these are perhaps some of the best bagels I’ve ever had. We enjoyed a couple Sunday night for dinner with a mixture of Earth Balance, Nutritional Yeast and Garlic, then Monday we enjoyed them for lunch as a sandwich with sliced tomato, onion, arugula, and melted Daiya Provolone Cheese. Suffice to say they didn’t last long enough for me to enjoy on my actual birthday and so I made a different breakfast Tuesday morning instead.

Creole Steamed Sausages &
Bacon Onion Biscuits

Since I knew we’d be eating out a lot during the day I decided to go with something simple, but simple doesn’t mean boring! For a long while now I’ve been wanting to make Celine and Joni’s Bacon Onion Biscuits - also from Hearty Vegan Meals, - and so I decided my birthday was the perfect day to give them a try. They’re pretty quick, and easy to throw together, just your basic biscuit dough, with granulated onion thrown in and some home made vegan bacon bits. They’re baked in the oven then topped with vegan cheese. The recipe specifies mozzarella but I used Daiya Pepper Jack because that’s all I had. These were really good, and I served them with melted Earth Balance and a side of Creole Steamed Sausages from Bianca Phillip’s book “Cookin’ Crunk.” I love her creole sausages, especially for breakfast!

After our eats it was off to the city with my family to do the touristy thing. They wanted to go to Navy Pier and Millennium Park so we did that and then hit up Native Foods Cafe  for lunch when our bellies all began to rumble. Originally I was going to order a salad at Native since I’ve always wanted to try their salads and never do, but they had a few new sandwiches on the menu and so I caved and got the new BBQ Ancho Brisket Sandwich which was delicious! With it I got a side of sweet potato fries - of course - and then I ordered their Peanut Butter Parfait for dessert which is my favorite dessert of theirs and they don’t always have it so I decided to snap it up while I had the chance. My husband ordered their Twister Wrap which is a pretty basic wrap loaded with wholesome stuff and nothing too out of the ordinary. Very tasty. My mom and step-dad each got the Oklahoma Bacon Cheeseburger which is my favorite thing on the menu.

BBQ Ancho Brisket Sandwich with Sweet Potato Fries 

After we ate we walked around Michigan Avenue for a while then walked along the River until we got back to Navy Pier. By then it was evening and so we used the bathroom there to change into our more fancy attire and then we piled into the car and headed out for a nice dinner at Handlebar in Wicker Park.  I plan on writing a separate review post of Handlebar so stay tuned for that.

Peanut Butter Parfait 

Twister Wrap 

After dinner we headed home for cake. Each year since I’ve been vegan I’ve baked my own birthday cake. Everyone thinks this is strange but you can’t just go and buy a vegan birthday cake in Chicago, and my husband doesn’t bake, so as I always say “If I don’t do it, who will?” to be fair my husband offers to give it a try, but I’d rather do it myself and I don’t find it sad that I have to. I love baking! This year however when I was trying to decide what kind of cake to make I just couldn’t choose and so in the end I decided to make 4 birthday cakes, yes 4.

Grasshopper Cake 

The main even was the Grasshopper Cake from Hannah Kaminsky’s book “Vegan Desserts” this is basically a Chocolate Devils Food Cake with a Mint Icing. I’ve never had a Grasshopper Cake - or Pie - before but I’ve always found them intriguing and since the combination of chocolate and mint is one of my all-time favorites I decided that I needed this cake in my life. I’m really glad I made it, and can’t believe It took me so long to try this combination in cake form. The cake was super moist and even though the icing turned out to be more of a glaze then a traditional frosting the flavor was so subtle and mellow that everyone loved it - even mint chocolate haters.

The second cake I decided to make was the Birthday Pie from Hannah Kaminsky’s book “Easy as Vegan Pie” This is a classic vanilla birthday cake with sprinkles, and vegan buttercream baked into a pie crust. I chose to make this because vanilla sprinkle cake is one of my mom’s specialities, each year she made it for my brother and step-brother’s birthdays, and it always went over big. I haven’t had this kind of cake since before I was vegan and so I really felt a twinge of nostalgia for it. Plus, since I’ve always been a lover of pie, and pie crust is really the best part of any pie, the thought of having this classic cake in a pie shell really blew my mind. Lucky for me it blew my tastebuds away too, everyone loved this. I mean, how can you go wrong? Again the cake was super moist, and flavorful, and the pie crust was buttery and flakey. A perfect combination.

Birthday Cake Pie 

My third Cake was actually a pie, a Buckeye Pie actually, also from Kaminsky’s book “Easy as Vegan Pie” I chose this for the very simple fact that it looked delicious and chocolate peanut butter is a combo that I love just as much as chocolate and mint. This tasted just like a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, but better. It was super creamy, and super rich, so rich that you can only really have a small slice but man is it worth it! So decadent.

Buckeye Pie 

With Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream 

Lastly - because I love ice cream cake, and haven’t had one in a while - I decided to make the Mocha Mud Pie from Chloe Coscarelli’s book “Chloe’s Vegan Desserts.” this is a pretty basic pie, containing a chocolate cookie crumb crust, and a coffee ice cream filling. Since I didn’t want to buy vegan ice cream I decided to make my own which I poured into the pie crust. Then the pie is topped off with a simple chocolate sauce. Ice cream cake was always my favorite growing up, and since my birthday is in the summer I always had one on my birthday. Since going vegan of course this hasn’t been the case, in fact this is only my second time making an ice cream cake or pie. This was also really good, if you love coffee ice cream, and you love pie and frozen desserts then you really can’t go wrong!

Mocha Mud Pie 

In the end it turned out that four desserts was probably three too many. We were all totally stuffed especially since I made home-made vegan vanilla ice cream to go with them, and had vegan whip cream too. Still, I don’t regret making all the treats, it was a fun way to celebrate.

PS: I hope everyone had a lovely Canada Day!


  1. Loved The Oklahoma Bacon Cheese burger, best burger I think I have ever husband loved it too!! Imagine that NO meat & super good! Wish we had a Native Foods Cafe here....gonna have to come back to Chicago for another on! Your birthday cakes where to die for my favourite was the Grasshopper cake..can't stop thinking of it...mmmm YUMMY!! S.T.

  2. Hi Kyleigh! I found your blog a couple of hours ago and have been reading it since! LOL (stopping to look on Amazon for the books you've mentioned)
    I would love to ask you some questions and a little advice, if that's okay with you! Is there any email adress that I can write you to?
    Thanks! :)

  3. Hey Camilu, thank you! I'm glad you're enjoying the blog. I'd be happy to answer any questions you have, and offer advice!
    You can write to me at
    I look forward to hearing from you!!