Friday, July 5, 2013

Red Velvet Stars and 4th of July Buffet!

Happy (belated) 4th of July! We had some friends over yesterday for a sunny backyard BBQ, and plenty of vegan treats. Red velvet brownies covered in vanilla icing and fruit, mini cupcakes (of course), white cheddar popcorn, salads, veggie burgers, and more!

Here was the spread (or part of it anyway):

A little bit more on the menu:
  • Asian veggie salad- Oh She Glows' "Rad Rainbow Raw Pad Thai" (minus the peppers, since I can't eat 'em)- pretty good, and I loved the dressing. I think this actually would be great with soba noodles instead of the zucchini noodles (I know, no longer a raw dish) - but it was good to get some use out of my spiralizer again!
  • Fruit salad- can't ever go wrong with fresh, local fruits! We also had plenty of watermelon.
  • Fresh homemade lemonade and some strawberry-mint water- so refreshing! And good to use up some of the mint that seems to be taking over my herb garden ;)
  • Guac & chips - perfect summer backyard party app.
  • Veggie burgers & veggie dogs (I didn't make them, but here's a great veggie burger recipe if you are looking for one!)
  • Earth Balance's Aged White Cheddar Puffs- I was really excited to try these out, but unfortunately they fell a little (ok, a lot) short of expectations for me. The flavor was a little off in my mind. Just not the right taste. Oh well. 
  • Mini vanilla cupcakes- I used the recipe for Sexy Lowfat Vanilla Cupcakes (which replaces most of the oil with soy or almond milk yogurt) from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. Always so good. I made the standard vanilla, and then for part of the batch I also cut up some fresh blueberries and folded those in. I frosted the vanilla ones with plain vanilla frosting (went lazy and bought it- still vegan though!)- some colored with vegan blue food coloring, and some plain. For the blueberry cupcakes, I made a simple lemon glaze from powdered sugar whisked with some fresh squeezed lemon juice. These blueberry-lemon cupcakes were my fave! 

  • Red velvet brownie stars- Originally, I was going to make this flag cake from Healthy.Happy.Life; but then I saw these red velvet stars on pinterest and couldn't resist.

Vegan Red Velvet Brownie Stars
The original recipe, from "I should be mopping the floor" (so cute!) wasn't vegan, but was of course very easy to veganize. Check out her site for a much, much better version of these stars! She had much better presentation and stacked them, which I think is so much cuter! Unfortunately, mine came out a little too thick, so I opted not to stack. I also didn't have the perfect sized star cookie-cutter- the large one was way too big to double up on, while the little ones were kind of tricky to get the brownies out of in tact. But, the small stars did make for the perfect little party dessert bites.

I followed her recipe pretty closely. Here's my vegan version:
  • 1 package Red Velvet Cake Mix- Duncan Hines or another brand
  • 1/4 cup + 1 Tbsp Vanilla Almond Milk Yogurt
  • 1/4 cup water (+1 Tbsp if needed to mix)
  • 3 Tbsp canola oil
  • Vanilla frosting of choice (I used a pre-made vanilla vegan frosting)
  • Fresh blueberries for decorating
You simply stir together the cake mix with the yogurt, oil, and water, and spread out the batter over a tin-foil lined pan (9x12 or so)- spray the tin foil with some cooking spray first. Bake at 350 for about 25 minutes, let cool and then transfer the tinfoil w/ brownies to the countertop for easy cutting. Then just use a star-shaped cookie cutter to make your stars! With the leftover brownies- the outside portion after cutting out the stars- I made little squares and put them in mini cupcake holders. Everyone loved these (star-shaped or not!)

These brownies aren't overly sweet, and are a little thick & cakey, but paired with the fruit & frosting (you could use a plain vanilla, as I did, or a cream cheese frosting), they are pretty darn good. It might taste better to mix in some chocolate chips or some more yogurt or applesauce for moisture if you are thinking of making the brownies just on their own, without frosting.

Another fun 4th of July! Hope everyone has a great weekend!


  1. Wow - I had no idea Duncan Hines Red Velvet mix was vegan! This is a game-changer. Thanks for sharing!

    1. I should clarify- there are no dairy products in the mix, but it's possible some of the dyes are not vegan. Sorry if I misrepresented! I did not read this carefully, but rather just looked at ingredients for dairy.


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