Adaptable Recipes, Dessert, Makeover Monday Meals

Makeover Monday Meal- Let There Be Cake!


Whether it’s a fancy wedding or birthday cake, or maybe an all-butter pound cake at a barbecue,  people can’t help but smile and get ready to dig in.  Cake makes the dessert world go around and round.

Nevertheless, there are times when you’re not in the mood to tackle making a cake from scratch. You want something fast and easy. So, before you pick up a box of cake mix, this recipe for vanilla cake comes together in a snap. Moreover, it doesn’t contain any butter or dairy.

King Arthur’s Vanilla Cake is reminiscent of a recipe that became popular first during the Great Depression and then again around World War II when items like butter and eggs were rationed. The result is a light and tender cake with just the right amount of sweetness. It’s also vegan and can be adapted for gluten sensitivities.


Vanilla Cake Pan Cake by King Arthur adapted by Still a Chick Lit


PREP 10 mins
BAKE 30 to 35 mins
TOTAL 1 hr


2 cups (240g) all-purpose flour  (gluten-free all-purpose flour, 1 to 1 gluten-free baking blend, white rice, brown rice, or sorghum flour plus 2 tablespoons of xanthan gum)

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons (198g) water

1/2 cup (99g) vegetable oil

3/4 cup (149g) granulated sugar. (Swerve sweetener, Splenda granulated, coconut, raw cane, or turbinado sugar, pulsed finely)

4 1/2 teaspoons (21g) cider vinegar or white vinegar

1 tablespoon (14g) clear vanilla or vanilla

1/2 teaspoon almond extract


4 tablespoons (57g) butter, regular or vegan, at room temperature

2 1/2 cups (283g) confectioners’ sugar, sifted if it’s lumpy.

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon clear vanilla or vanilla

about 2 tablespoons (28g) water


Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease an 8” square or 9” round pan that’s at least 2” deep.

To make the cake: In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder. Set aside.

In a separate bowl or large measuring cup, whisk together the water, vegetable oil, sugar, vinegar, vanilla, and almond extract.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir to combine. It’s OK for a few small lumps to remain.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan.

Bake the cake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the top feels set, the edges are beginning to pull away from the sides of the pan, and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Remove the cake from the oven and either serve the cake warm from the oven or allow it to cool completely in the pan before frosting.

To make the frosting: Beat together the butter, confectioners’ sugar, and salt until no large pieces of butter remain.

Add the vanilla and 1 tablespoon of the water, beating to incorporate. Add enough additional water, a teaspoon at a time, to make a spreadable frosting.

Leaving the cake right in the pan, if desired, use a spatula or flat knife to apply the frosting.

Storage information: Store the cake, well wrapped, at room temperature for several days. Freeze for more extended storage.


Adaptable Recipes, Food Glorious Food, Makeover Monday Meals

Makeover Monday Meal- Dinner Edition

A classic update for today’s busy families

Like Beef Stroganoff, Swedish Meatballs reached the height of popularity in the 1950s and 1960s.  The recipe is a mixture of ground beef, ground pork, minced onion, breadcrumbs, seasonings, eggs, and heavy cream. It fell out of popularity for a while but saw a resurgence when Ikea brought it to America.

The original recipe requires time and that’s not something a lot of modern families have while living busy lives. Fortunately, we found a recipe by Inspired Taste that includes instructions to make them in a slow cooker and an Instapot or pressure cooker.

Remember, seasoning can be adjusted to your liking. We adapted the recipe to include vegetarians and vegans, so they can enjoy it too.

We hope you will give this a whirl to perk up your Monday night meal.


Crave-Worthy Swedish Meatballs by Inspired Taste. Adapted by Still A Chick Lit

PREP 30mins

COOK 25mins

TOTAL 55mins

This Swedish meatballs recipe makes juicy and flavorful meatballs with a creamy, rich, and crave-worthy sauce. If you prefer, you can serve the meatballs without the gravy. Serve these with mashed potatoes (or mashed cauliflower), buttered noodles, or roasted vegetables.

For the gravy, Inspired Taste added a few unconventional ingredients. Soy sauce seasons, mustard adds a little zing, and lemon zest brightens up the flavors of the dish.

Makes about 30 meatballs or 6 servings



1 pound (450 grams) ground beef (2 packages of vegan ground meat)

8 ounces (225 grams) ground pork

2 ounces (55 grams) fresh bread, crusts removed (about two slices) (Gluten-free bread)

1/4 cup (60 ml) milk (dairy: whole, 2%, or non-fat)  (non-dairy: almond, rice, or soy milk)

2 tablespoons (30 grams) unsalted butter, plus more as needed (unsalted vegan butter)

1/2 cup (70 grams) finely chopped onion

1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Pinch fresh ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard or a pinch of dry mustard powder

1 large egg (2 tablespoons Aquafaba, ¼ cup silken tofu pureed with 1/8 teaspoon baking soda, 1 flaxseed or chia seed egg, or vegan egg replacer)

1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt


Butter, as needed (vegan butter or margarine)

3 tablespoons (24 grams) all-purpose flour (gluten-free all-purpose flour, 1 to 1 gluten-free baking blend, sorghum, sweet rice, or brown rice flour)

3 cups (710 ml) unsalted beef, chicken, or unsalted vegetable stock (you can also use broth)

1/4 cup (60 ml) heavy cream (Dairy: light cream or whole milk) (non-dairy: full-fat coconut milk or unsweetened almond milk)

1 teaspoon light soy sauce (vegan soy sauce)

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard or a pinch of dry mustard powder

1/2 teaspoon lemon zest

Handful fresh parsley, chopped



In a small bowl, tear or chop the bread into small pieces then cover with the milk. Set aside.

Melt one tablespoon of butter in a wide skillet. Add the onions and cook until soft, but not brown; 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in the black pepper, allspice, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, nutmeg, and mustard. Cook, stirring everything around the pan for 30 seconds. Transfer to a bowl to cool, and then wipe the skillet mostly clean with a paper towel so that it is ready for cooking the meatballs.

Combine the beef, pork, bread, and milk mixture, and the egg in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or large food processor). When the onions are warm, not hot, add them to the bowl as well.

Evenly sprinkle the salt over the top of the mixture then beat for about 30 seconds, scrape the sides of the bowl, then beat another 30 seconds to a minute until the mixture looks very well blended. (If you are using a food processor, you may need to stop the processor one more time to move the mixture around a bit.)

Form the mixture into meatballs; we like using a medium cookie scoop that holds about 1 1/2 tablespoons — you should get around 30 meatballs. Move onto cooking or cover and refrigerate up to a day or freeze them (see notes section for our tips).


Heat the oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment. (It’s likely you will cook the meatballs in batches. A warm oven helps to keep cooked meatballs hot while you finish cooking all of the meatballs.)

Melt half a tablespoon of butter in the pan used to cook the onions over medium-low heat. Add meatballs and cook, turning every few minutes, until brown on all sides and cooked through; 8 to 10 minutes. It’s unlikely all of the meatballs will fit so you will need to do this in batches (or use two pans). Add more butter to the pan as needed.

Transfer cooked meatballs to the baking sheet and place them into the warm oven.


After cooking the meatballs, make the gravy in the same pan. Depending on how much fat is left in the pan after cooking the meatballs, you may need to remove some or add a little bit of butter. You will need about three tablespoons of fat in the pan.

Decrease the heat to low then scatter the flour over the fat in the pan and whisk until medium blonde in color, about 2 minutes. While whisking, slowly add the broth. Continue to whisk until the gravy begins to thicken. Add the cream and continue to cook until the sauce thickens enough to coat the meatballs, another minute or so.

Whisk in the soy sauce, mustard, and lemon zest. Taste then adjust with salt and pepper, as needed. Remove the meatballs from the oven and add to the gravy. Serve with parsley scattered on top.

The recipe authors Adam and Joanne prefer the combination of beef and pork, If that doesn’t suit you, use 1  ½ pound of ground beef.

If you don’t want to use beef or pork, the combination of 1 pound of ground chicken breast and ground chicken makes for just the right bite.

You can use 1/3 cup of plain bread crumbs instead of fresh bread.

If you don’t have a stand mixer or food processor, you can mix the meatball mixture by hand. An immersion blender works too. If you use your hands, it will affect the texture of the meatballs.

Make-ahead tips: The meatball mixture can be made and refrigerated one to two days in advance.

Freezing the Meatballs:

To freeze cooked meatballs, let them cool enough so you can handle them then add to freezer-safe bags or containers. To reheat them, bake in the oven until heated through. To freeze uncooked meatballs, place the formed balls onto a baking sheet and then into the freezer. Freeze until hard then transfer to freezer-safe containers or bags. To cook them, thaw in the refrigerator overnight then follow the directions for cooking in the recipe above. We do not recommend freezing the gravy, but you can make that in about 5 minutes.


Making Them in a Slow Cooker

You can make this recipe in a slow cooker or crockpot. To do it, follow these steps:

  1. Make the meatball mixture as directed and roll it into balls.
  2. Brown the meatballs to add some sturdiness and color, and then add to the slow cooker.
  3. Make the gravy as directed in the recipe below, but leave out the heavy cream. Instead of adding cream at this stage, add it once the meatballs are cooked, which prevents curdling the cream.
  4. Cook the meatballs on LOW for 4 to 5 hours or on HIGH for 2 hours.
  5. When cooked, turn the heat setting to WARM. Stir in the cream, taste the gravy, and adjust with additional salt and pepper.

Making Them in a Pressure Cooker (example: Instant Pot)

You can make this recipe in a pressure cooker. To do it, follow these steps:

  1. Make the meatball mixture as directed and roll it into balls.
  2. Brown the meatballs to add some sturdiness and color, and then add to the pressure cooker. Depending on your pressure cooker, this step can be done by using the SAUTE function.
  3. Make the gravy as directed in the recipe below, but leave out the heavy cream. Instead of adding cream at this stage, add it once the meatballs are cooked, which prevents the chance of curdling the cream.
  4. Cook the meatballs on HIGH PRESSURE for 8 minutes, and then let the pressure naturally release.
  5. When cooked, stir in the cream, taste the gravy, and adjust with additional salt and pepper.


To be sure you get our latest Makeover Monday Meal, subscribe to our newsletter


Sign up to stay informed about new blog posts, articles, book excerpts, authors, bonus recipes, and women in business profiles, the schedule for our Still A Chick-Lit Podcast, and so much more.

By submitting this form, you are consenting to receive marketing emails from: . You can revoke your consent to receive emails at any time by using the SafeUnsubscribe® link, found at the bottom of every email. Emails are serviced by Constant Contact


For more inspired ideas for meals, check out Adam and Joanne’s site at