Apple Brandy Cranberry Sauce


You really can’t beat this cranberry sauce. It’s unbelievably delicious and so easy to make. If you’ve never made homemade cranberry sauce, now is your chance. I have made several versions over the years, but this is by far my favorite. I served this over Thanksgivukkah and it’s making another appearance for Christmas.

Cranberry sauce is really good anytime of year and it’s perfect for canning and gifting. I really want to start a homemade gift basket of my favorite healthy recipes to start giving my loved ones over the holidays.  I have a laundry list of things I want to do, but sometimes I feel my day is a success if I get all three kids – including myself – showered, dressed and out of the house on time!


 The addition of apple brandy really makes the flavors of this cranberry sauce pop. It’s not overpowering at all, but adds some warmth and spirit to it. It has 1/2 cup of pure maple syrup which is just the right amount of “sweet” for me. Can I be in love with a recipe? Yep! Am I super corny when I write about food? That too!

Apple Brandy Cranberry Sauce
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This cranberry sauce is the perfect addition to your holiday table or enjoyed anytime of year.
Recipe type: Condiment

  • 1 (12) oz. bag cranberries, washed
  • 1 cup apple juice
  • ½ cup 100% pure maple syrup
  • 4 tbsp Apple Brandy
  • ¼ tsp fresh clementine or orange zest
  • Pinch of cinnamon

  1. Add cranberries, apple juice, maple syrup, apple brandy, orange zest and cinnamon to medium saucepan and stir. Bring to a boil over high heat.
  2. Reduce to a simmer and continue cooking uncovered for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the juice is thick. Remove from heat and cool. Store in an air-tight container in the refrigerator.


If you need some inspiration for some last-minute homemade gifts, check out Richa’s awesome Vegan Christmas Cookies & Jar Gifts. I am absolutely in love with these, so easy and so cute.

I was running out of ideas for the Elf on the Shelf and she saved me with these. If you are plagued with these somewhat creepy elves over the holidays, you know how easy it is to run out of ideas. Nevertheless, the kids love these little guys and they absolutely loved Cookies in a Jar!

 *crappy iphone pic alert*


Does anyone make homemade/handmade gifts over the holidays?

Don’t be shy and share your thoughts, it’s more fun that way!

Happy Holidays!!



Pomegranate & Pistachio Chocolate Fudge

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When RedEnvelope came to me and asked if I would feature my favorite, go-to holiday recipe on my blog and complement it with a gift from their Unique Anniversary Gifts, I couldn’t resist the challenge. Some of my favorite holiday recipes are non-vegan ones that I still want to veganize and recreate a healthier version. Since my creativity level is at an all-time high again, my mind quickly created this recipe – dessert perfection.

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Fudge is one of the most iconic sweet treats to indulge in during the holiday season and is perfect for gifting. Traditional fudge recipes require a lot of time to perfect a smooth, velvety fudge, but not this recipe. It’s so easy to make and I went through several trials to make sure I brought you the perfect holiday fudge recipe.

Pomegranate arils, pistachios, chocolate, peanut butter and a hint of orange make for an unbelievable flavor combination, perfectly complementing each other. When you bite into this fudge, the juice from pomegranate arils burst open with their natural sweetness, enhancing the flavors of the other ingredients. Seriously, prepare to have this fudge rock your world.

I know you are curious to see what gift I chose to compliment this fabulous fudge. So, before you go running off into the kitchen to make this recipe here it is.

Monogram keepsake box + champagne toasting flutes


I have personally gone to RedEnvelope in the past for unique gifts to give my mother and father, my in-laws, or that someone who has everything. I love gifting from RedEnvelope because I know I am going to find something that they wouldn’t normally buy themselves and/or don’t have already. I also love the ability to personalize an item and make it special.

What a perfect pairing this holiday fudge makes with these beautiful champagne flutes. It warms my heart to think of my loved ones sitting by the fire – insert carpet picnic – drinking out of these champagne flutes and indulging on this decadent dessert.

Pomegranate & Pistachio Chocolate Fudge (vegan, gluten-free)
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This decadent dessert is the perfect gift, treat or ending to your holiday meal.
Recipe type: Dessert

  • 1 cup maple syrup
  • ⅓ cup peanut butter
  • 1 cup coconut butter, packed at room temperature
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3 tsp vanilla
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • ⅔ cup whole pistachios, shelled
  • ⅔ cup fresh pomegranate arils
  • 2 tsp fresh clementine zest

  1. Line a 8″ x 8″ pan with parchment paper, overlapping on all four sides.
  2. Combine maple syrup, peanut butter, coconut butter, cocoa powder, vanilla and sea salt in a high-powered blender or food processor and process until smooth. Transfer mixture to a medium-sized bowl and stir in pistachios, pomegranate arils, and clementine zest. Stir to combine.
  3. Transfer to pan and spread evenly with a spatula. Use your finger to even it out and make swirls on top. Place in refrigerator for a few hours or until firm. Slice into small squares.
  4. Store fudge in an air-tight container or freeze until ready to use. If storing in freezer, defrost for at least 15-20 minutes before serving.

Recipe makes 24 1″ x 1″ squares
I used Artisana Coconut Butter.
You can also use any nut butter of choice, but the peanut butter was really yummy in this recipe.
When spreading the fudge in the pan, push the pomegranate arils down with your finger into the fudge.
Make it raw by using raw peanut butter, raw pistachios and raw cacao powder.


What are some of your favorite desserts to gift over the holidays? Don’t be shy and share your thoughts, comments make my day!

Happy Holidays,


This post is part of the RedEnvelope Holiday Recipe Round-Up but the content and ideas expressed are my own.

Hearty Minestrone Soup


I’m finding it hard to believe that Thanksgiving has come and gone! We had a wonderful, mellow Thanksgiving at our house, but we sure did eat a lot of rich foods. So, in order to lighten it up a bit in between Thanksgiving and Christmas, I am sharing this bowl of healthy deliciousness with you.

This soup is exactly what my family needed this week since everyone has come down with some variation of the same cold. Isn’t it interesting how a cold can manifest itself differently for each person? Well, we are on the mend thanks to this hearty minestrone soup. I hope it’s just what you need too!

This soup is hearty, filling and pairs nicely with a big green salad – as all soups should. You can also serve this with some warm crusty bread.

Hearty Minestrone Soup (vegan, oil-free)
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Recipe type: Soup
Serves: 4-6

  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • ¾ cup celery, thinly sliced
  • 1 leek white and tender green parts only, thinly sliced
  • 2 cups Napa cabbage, chopped
  • ¼ cup dry sherry
  • 3 cups low sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 (14 oz) can diced tomatoes
  • 3 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ¾ cup canned red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • ¾ cup canned white northern beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup cooked elbow noodles
  • no-salt seasoning of choice or sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • ½ cup flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped

  1. Heat a medium soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the diced onions and two tablespoons of vegetable stock and stir. Water sauté the onions, adding small of amounts of veggie stock when needed to prevent sticking, for 5 minutes or until translucent. Add the garlic, celery, leeks, cabbage and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Raise heat to high and add dry sherry, vegetable stock and diced tomatoes. Whisk in tomato paste and add bay leaves. Bring to a Boil. Cover and simmer on low-heat for 15 minutes.
  2. Stir in the beans and cover. Simmer for an additional 10 minutes.
  3. Remove bay leaves and stir in pasta noodles. Season with no-salt seasoning or sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste.
  4. Remove from heat. Ladle soup into bowls and garnish with freshly chopped parsley.

I only used 3 cups vegetable stock in this soup because I wanted it to be hearty. If you want more broth add an additional 1 cup of vegetable broth. You will need to add another tablespoon of tomato paste and adjust the seasonings a bit.

I adore simple soups like this that are done in a flash, especially when I have sick babies to heal and comfort. Soups like this always have a way of making everyone feel better.

What’s your favorite comforting soup to feed your family when they are sick? Don’t be shy and leave a comment – your comments make my day!




Vegan Pumpkin Pancakes with Cranberry Maple Syrup


My friends over at Baked Better – the makers of organic bread mixes – were kind enough to send me over some of their new pancake mix to try out. Baked Better Morningside Pancakes have simple and pure ingredients: 100% organic whole wheat flour, organic flax-seed meal, organic wheat bran, cinnamon, and baking powder. That’s it and that’s all we want to see in store-bought mixes right? =) First, I made regular pancakes with the mix and they came out great. For my review, however, I bring you these pumpkin pancakes of pure awesomeness. In my opinion these are the best pancakes I have made to date and the first ones I’m sharing on the blog. The addition of Cranberry Maple Syrup makes these the ultimate fall treat. This is breakfast perfection!


I am a woman who is all about tradition around here. One of the things I’m trying to do here on Virtually Vegan Mama, is to build a family cookbook with recipes I can share with my family and friends year after year. You are lucky because I am also sharing this virtual cookbook with you. I know I will be enjoying these pancakes during the holidays with my family and friends as a new breakfast tradition for many years to come.

Pumpkin Pancakes with Cranberry Maple Syrup (vegan, oil-free, refined sugar-free)
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These healthy pumpkin pancakes are moist, fluffy and bursting with fall flavors. When drizzled with a cranberry maple syrup, you are sure to have a perfect fall breakfast.
Recipe type: Breakfast
Serves: 4

For Cranberry Maple Syrup
  • ½ cup fresh whole cranberries
  • ½ cup maple syrup
  • ½ tbsp arrowroot mixed with ½ tbsp water (optional)
For Pumpkin Pancakes
  • 1 cup unsweetened vanilla non-dairy milk
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup Baked Better Morningside Pancake Mix or other whole-grain flour
  • 1 ½ tsp baking powder
  • ¾ tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 4 tbsp canned pumpkin
  • 2 tbsp pure maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla

For Cranberry Maple Syrup:
  1. Add cranberries and maple syrup to a small saucepan and simmer, covered on low heat until cranberries pop, about 5-8 minutes. Cover until ready to serve. Serve warm. *If you want a thicker syrup: mix ½ tbsp arrowroot and ½ tbsp water until combined. Whisk arrowroot mixture into syrup and simmer, stirring constantly, until slightly thickened. Cover and remove from heat.
For Pumpkin Pancakes:
  1. In a small bowl, mix non-dairy milk and apple cider vinegar and set aside for 5 minutes or until it curdles (makes vegan buttermilk).
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk flour, baking powder and pumpkin pie spice.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together pumpkin, maple syrup, vanilla and buttermilk. Fold in dry ingredients. Stir until a thick batter forms, but do not over mix.
  4. Spray a large skillet with cooking spray and heat on medium to medium-high heat.
  5. Pour ¼ cup of batter for each pancake onto skillet. Cook for 2-3 minutes on each side.
  6. Serve with Cranberry Maple Syrup drizzled on top.
  7. Makes 10-12 pancakes

If batter seems too thick, add a tablespoon or more of non-dairy milk and stir until desired pancake consistency. The batter should be thin enough to pour easily and spread to no more than ¼ inch thick. If too thin, add a little more flour. Cook the pancakes until bubbles form on the top. Flip pancakes and cook until golden brown on both sides.

Adapted from Light and Fluffy Pumpkin Pancakes Food. Com

Let’s not forget that it’s time to announce the winner of the Vegan Holiday Kitchen Giveaway

Congratulations to…


Alicia from the blog Treble Tart!

Congratulations Alicia!

What are some of your family recipe traditions? I would love to hear from you, comments make my day!

Well, I’m off to do some cooking for Thanksgiving…

Have a great day!



Vegan Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Muffins


Courtesy of the lovely and amazing Julieanna Hever, also known as “The Plant-Based Dietitian” and host of “What Would Julieanna Do?,” airing on Veria Living (the TV network that showcases healthy lifestyle and wellness programming).

Julieanna is an advocate of the benefits of following a whole food, plant-based diet. She is the author of the best-selling book, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Plant-Based Nutrition and the nutrition columnist for VegNews Magazine.  Her new  TV series  is a great source for healthy and delicious recipes!

Julieanna was kind enough to share this amazing recipe for her Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Muffins with us. This is the perfect recipe for this time of year. These muffins are amazing, I made these for breakfast this morning and they are half gone already! =) The kids loved, loved, loved these!

Oh, and they are oil-free and refined sugar-free taboot! *love*

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Muffins (vegan, oil-free, refined sugar-free)
Recipe type: Breakfast
Serves: 12

  • 1 medium banana, mashed
  • 1 (15-oz.) can sweet pumpkin puree
  • ¼ cup 100% pure maple syrup
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 cups whole oat flour
  • ½ tsp. baking soda
  • ½ tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. ground nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp. ground ginger
  • 1 cup grain-sweetened dairy-free chocolate chips

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. In a large bowl, combine mashed banana, pumpkin puree, maple syrup, and vanilla extract.
  2. In a small bowl, combine oat flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. Transfer mixture to large bowl and mix together gently until well-combined. Avoid over-mixing to prevent toughness in the final product. Fold in chocolate chips.
  3. Spoon batter into silicon muffin cups and bake for 20 minutes or until the muffins are lightly browned. Remove muffins from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes. Store muffins in an airtight container.

I had to bake these for longer than the recipe states. Total time: 35 minutes

All ovens vary, so use your kitchen intuition!


Thanks again for sharing your recipe with us Julieanna and good luck on your new TV series. We are all looking forward to watching!