Vegan Sugar Cookies with Icing

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Some vegans don’t eat cookies too often, unless they bake them at home. They are hard to find in the stores and always a bit pricey. If you can find any, they will usually be peanut butter or chocolate chip, but very rarely a sugar cookie and a great tasting one at that. In fact my daughter prefers these over the non-vegan ones!

I made this batch of cookies for the First Annual Veg-Fest in Sonoma County last month. Since these needed to look pristine, I ended up with some rejects left at home. My friend was visiting a few days after the event and ate the rest of my cookies, he claimed they were so good he couldn’t stop eating them. Today he asked for the recipe because he just needed to make some vegan cookies and he thinks I can go into business with these and sell them to places like Whole Foods or other vegetarian friendly places.

I hate to even call these a “Sugar Cookie”. Most sugar cookies are hard, chalky and dry. What makes these so different than a traditional sugar cookie, is the flax-seed meal and the cream cheese. Those two items give this cookie a much better texture and flavor than the old fashioned ones. To change it up once in a while, you could add some lemon or orange zest to the cookie dough and icing for a different taste.

These cookies are just as easy to make as any other cookie, with the added fun of cutting out different shapes and decorating them.  If you are not an artist, then no worries, you can just spread the icing over the tops then devour. If you are more artistically inclined, then you can pull out all the stops and really make some fun and gorgeous cookies!

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* VEGAN * ROLLED *SUGAR *COOKIES *

Ingredients for cookies:

  • 1 Cup Golden Flaxseed Meal
  • 2 Cups All Purpose Flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) Vegan Margarine – such as Nucoa
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1.5 tsp Ener-G Egg Replacer
  • 2 tbls water
  • 1/2 container of Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese
  • 1 teaspoon good quality vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon of almond extract (or Lemon or Orange zest/extract)

Directions:

  • In the bowl of an electric mixer, using the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  This should take about 3 minutes.
  • In a separate bowl, combine together the dry ingredients and set aside.
  • Prepare the egg replacer  by mixing replacer with warm water and whisk until frothy
  • Add egg replacer, vanilla and almond extracts to mixer and beat another minute or so.
  • Add the flour mixture slowly, mixing after each cup is added.  (Be careful not to add too much at a time.
  • Blend until all of the flour is incorporated and the dough begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl.
  • Take the dough out of the bowl and place it on a piece of parchment paper.
  • Place the dough in a large plastic (zip-lock type) bag or Tupperware bowl with a lid and refrigerate for about 2 hours or overnight.

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  •  Take about half the dough at a time and roll it out until about 1/3 to 1/2 inch thick.
  • Carefully stamp each cookie cutter until that piece is full. (If cookie cutter starts to  stick, dip the edges in flour.)
  • Prep an area to roll out the dough. I use a roll out mat, and a little flour. If you don’t have height guides for your rolling pin, you can use two wooden spoons of the same height as guides as shown above.15 min before you remove the dough from the refrigerator, preheat oven to 350 degrees (F).
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Wilton Fondant Fun Rolling MatLR-8022  LR-8023

  • Pick up the scraps and re- roll the dough, continue to stamp cookies until full, then repeat.
  • Place cookies on an ungreased cookie sheet (you can use parchment paper or a silicone mat on top of the sheet if you prefer) and place in the freezer for about 5 -10 minutes. This assures that the cookies stay very cold and will help prevent spreading.
  • Take the other half of the dough and repeat the process until all cookies have been stamped.
  • If you don’t have enough cookies sheets you should leave the unrolled dough in the fridge until your first batches are completed.
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    PRO TIP: Place similar sized cookies on the same cookies sheet. That way all the cookies will cook evenly and you won’t have some cookies under-baked and others to crispy.

  • Bake cookies for 8-10 minutes depending on the size of the cookie.  Bake until they are just barely beginning to take on a golden tone.  They will continue to bake as long as then are on the pan, so don’t let then get too brown.
  • Cool for just a minute or so on the pan, then carefully remove cookies from the baking sheet and place on a cooling rack.

This recipe yields about 28, 2 1/2 inch cookies or 16, 3 1/2 inch cookies.

Once cooled, the cookies can be decorated with frosting, royal icing or rolled fondant.



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* VEGAN * ROYAL * ICING * RECIPE*

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup (organic) powdered sugar
  • 2 tbsp of non-dairy milk
  • 2 tsp of light corn syrup
  • 1/4 tsp almond extract (or Lemon or Orange zest/extract)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

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See my Sugar Cookie Extravaganza Post for all the details and tools used to decorate cookies. COOKIE DECORATING TOOLS NEEDED

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Directions:

  • Using Kitchen-aide mixer, add sugar, non-dairy milk and whisk until smooth.
  • Add in extracts and corn syrup.  Whisk  until icing is smooth, shiny, and a little runny.
  • Pour in all the icing sugar at once and place the bowl on the mixer.
  • You will want this to be thicker at first so you can use this for your borders. So add more powdered sugar until icing is thick enough to hold its shape. (You will add water as needed later for the flood fill.)
  • In the icing bottles, place some of the white frosting in each one. Tint with food coloring or thin the icing with small amounts of warm water to reach the desired consistency. For the borders, you want it to be stiff and thicker, but still able to squeeze out.
  • Once your desired colors are mixed, then fill each bottle, or parchment bag.

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DECORATING : See my Sugar Cookie Extravaganza Post for links, ideas and more how-to’s.

  • While the borders are drying, use the same bowls as before to mix your thinner flood fill icing. This needs to be thin enough to “set” itself in about 10 seconds. Add only a few drops of water at a time. If it’s too runny, then you will had to add more powdered sugar and mix again.
  • Fill squeeze bottles with flood will icing. Use a toothpick or bamboo skewer stick to help move the flood colors to cover the surface area and reach into the corners.
  • Once your borders are set and dry you can begin filling in all your designs and colors. The possibilities are endless, so watch the videos for inspiration.
  • In-between uses, cover the bowl of plain white icing with a dampened tea-towel to prevent crusting and drying. You can also cover each bottle with a tip or damp cloth to prevent them from getting hard or clogged.

It took a little time to get used to the vegan royal icing.  It’s not bright white like the traditional recipe is, but its a lovely off-white color that still takes gel coloring well. I was able to paint on the dried icing  as well as add edible glitter, and fondant flowers. By the time I decorated a few cookies, I was used to it.  The cookie at the bottom right corner of the photo below is bright white, because I rolled out white fondant and used the same cookie cutter to cut a square shape, iced cookie with the flood fill icing, then stuck on the fondant. The icing acts like glue and worked great. Fondant will give you a smoother canvas to work on, as well as giving it the pure white color. Some people love the taste of it and some hate it, I personally prefer the icing flavor over the fondant, but its great to use as an accent such as the flowers.

 

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** H A P P Y * B A K I N G **

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How to Bake the PERFECT Chocolate Chip Cookie

Originally Posted on http://www.ozy.com

I have often wondered myself how people get that PERFECT chocolate chip cookie. I like them a little chewy, soft center, with a crisp edge. Looks like the cookie marked BOTH is the one for me! My daughter on the other hand loves the kind marked MORE FLOUR.  Now I will be able to fine tune my cookies to fit exactly what I am craving. Now if I only had some chocolate chips  ….

 

You like soft and chewy. He likes thin and crispy. If only there were a chocolate chip cookie recipe that pleased everyone…

There is! And, no, it’s not Martha Stewart’s. It’s science.

We’ve taken our cues from a few spots: a bioengineering grad student named Kendra Nyberg, who co-taught a class at UCLA called Science and Food, and chef and cookbook author Tessa Arias, who writes about cookie science on her site, Handle the Heat.

There’s also an illuminating Ted Talk animation on cookie science. And if you really want to go nuts (or no nuts, your call), Serious Eats offers 21 painstakingly tested steps for the Perfect Cookie, including kneading times and chocolate prep techniques.

“Even though I can describe what I like,” says Nyberg, “I didn’t know the role of each ingredient in the texture and shape of cookies.” So she looked into it — as only a scientist can.

(MORE: His Grandfather Invented Doritos But Tim West Prefers Kale)

Here, relying on the experts’ help and based on the classic Nestle Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe, OZY presents no-fail tips for baking your perfect cookie. (You’re welcome.)

Ooey-gooey: Add 2 cups more flour.

A nice tan: Set the oven higher than 350 degrees (maybe 360). Caramelization, which gives cookies their nice brown tops, occurs above 356 degrees, says the Ted video.

Crispy with a soft center: Use 1/4 teaspoon baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon baking soda.

Chewy: Substitute bread flour for all-purpose flour.

(MORE: Food Waste – There’s (Finally) An App For That)

Just like store-bought: Trade the butter for shortening. Arias notes that this ups the texture but reduces some flavor; her suggestion is to use half butter and half shortening.

Thick (and less crispy): Freeze the batter for 30 to 60 minutes before baking. This solidifies the butter, which will spread less while baking.

Cakey: Use more baking soda because, according to Nyberg, it “releases carbon dioxide when heated, which makes cookies puff up.”

Butterscotch flavored: Use 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar (instead of the same amount of combined granulated sugar and light brown sugar).

Uniformity: If looks count, add one ounce corn syrup and one ounce granulated sugar.

More. Just, more: Chilling the dough for at least 24 hours before baking deepens all the flavors, Arias found.


 

 Check out more about the PERFECT COOKIE on this BLOG:   H A N D L E **  THE ** H E A T

 

 

 

 

Vegan Glazed Steak, Peach, and Sweet Potato Skewers

::: SUMMERTIME GRILLING :::

Since I have posted a few desserts in a row, I thought I needed to share a dinner type item for you all to enjoy. Do not be afraid of the words VEGAN STEAK, when prepared properly, it’s quite tasty. But if you are a connoisseur of all things meaty, then please use some of your favorite in place of the vegan steak listed below.

These skewers are a nice change to the normal meat, mushrooms and peppers. Plus peaches are so amazing when grilled, it brings out something extra special in the flavor.  I was not sure of the spiced pecans at first. I thought the flavors wouldn’t go well with the peaches, but to my surprise they brought this dish to a whole new level.

With peaches coming to their peak season right now, you will definitely want to try these out the next time you are grilling. The grilled peaches work so well with the sweet potato, making a sweet harmonious taste sensation in your mouth!  If you are a nectarine fan, I am sure this will work great with those too.

Note: I thought for sure I had a photo of these, but sometimes my family is ready to eat and everything gets gobbled up before I can get photos of it. I will keep looking for one, or make them again this weekend so I can post some pics of these scrumptious little sticks of heaven.


Vegan Glazed Steak, Peach, and Sweet Potato Skewers

::: Ingredients :::

Gardein Beefless Tips

  • 1-2 packages of veggie steak
  • 2 medium sweet potatoes or yams
  • 1/2 cup sherry or rice vinegar
  • 1/3 cup honey or agave
  • 2 tbsps olive oil
  • salt & pepper
  • 2 fresh peaches
  • 1 purple onion
  • about 10 mini sweet peppers
  • 1/2 cup pecans (coarsely chopped)
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice

::: Instructions :::

  1. Prep Work:  soak the skewers in water while you prepare the items below
  2. Peel and dice sweet potatoes into about 1 inch cubes or slices (pieces should be big enough so they don’t fall off the skewers)
  3. Prepare your meat,  cut into 1 inch bites sized pieces.
  4. Peel peaches and pit them, then cut into about 1 inch chunks.
  5. Heat grill to medium.
  6. Remove outer skin of onion, then quarter and then pull apart the layers
  7. Place sweet potatoes in a covered bowl with a couple of tablespoons of water and microwave 3-5 minutes, until slightly soft (not completely fork-tender). Or if you have a Lekue steamer this is a great place to use it. You want the potatoes soft enough to skewer, but not so soft they will fall right off.
  8. Put the vinegar, 1/3 cup honey or agave, and 1 Tbsp olive oil in a small pan over medium heat.
  9. Simmer until thickened and reduced to 1/2 cup, about 10 minutes, and salt & pepper to taste.
  10. Thread the pieces of red onion, chicken, sweet potato, and peach onto the skewers.
  11. Reserve half the glaze. Brush the skewers with the remaining half of the glaze.
  12. Grill skewers about 5 minutes on each side.
  13. Toss the pecans in a small bowl with the remaining honey or agave, oil, cumin, pumpkin pie spice, 1/4 tsp salt, and a pinch of pepper.
  14. Place piece of foil on the grill and scatter the nuts on the foil, cooking 3 to 5 minutes (they can burn quickly so don’t forget to set the grill timer!)
  15. Plate the skewers, and drizzle the extra glaze that was set aside then sprinkle with the toasted pecans. Enjoy!

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Lékué Steamer – Amazing – You need one

ADDICTING PEANUT BUTTER DOUBLE CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

Not many people don’t love a good chocolate chip cookie. Combined with some peanut butter and you have just upped the ante. I made these last week and put some out for a game night we had. My friends kept asking me, ” What did you put in these cookies, they are so addicting.” We would play a round and if someone got up, they would ask that person to bring them another cookie. Eventually the whole Tupperware container of them ended up in the game zone to make for easy reaching. People made sure to take a couple extra at the end of night so they had one for the road.

These cookies are the perfect amount of chewy, with a crisp edge.  The combination of two kinds of chocolate, and a little peanut butter just made them that much more addictive. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. I’m sure you will want more than a shot of milk to go along with them!

Makes about 2 dozen
Ingredients

  • 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup natural peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup organic butter, softened
  • 2 organic eggs
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1 tablespoons water
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees F
  • Using a Kitchen-aid mixer, cream together the butter, peanut butter, brown sugar, and white sugar until smooth
  • Beat in the eggs until light & fluffy
  • Add corn syrup, water, and vanilla and mix until just incorporated
  • Slowly combine the flour, baking soda, and salt into the peanut butter mixture.
  • Pour in the chocolate chips and mix on low until combined
  • Use cookie scoop to drop dough about 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheets.
  • Bake for 10 to 12 minutes in the preheated oven, or until edges are golden brown.
  • Place cookies on wire rack to cool for a few minutes before eating.

Blackberry Chocolate Molten Lava Decadence

Looking for a tasty, yet simple dessert to make for a last minute party, or guests, or just because you need something chocolatey RIGHT NOW? This is the dessert is what you have been waiting for! Impress all your guests with this and they will definitely think you slaved away in the kitchen all day making this.

This simple- one bowl- one pan- gooey- rich treat, will make you wonder why you don’t make a homemade dessert more often.

What is great about this dessert is that you can sub out the blackberries for any other berry you prefer. I did make it once with fresh blackberries, but they kind of disappeared into the molten lava and were not as good as with the frozen ones.  What the heck, throw caution to the wind and why not add three kinds of berries at once and see what happens.


Blackberry Chocolate Molten Lava Decadence

Prep time – 5 mins       Cook time – 20 mins        Total time – 25 mins
Serves: 6

Ingredients

  • 1½ sticks unsalted butter
  • 1 Cup semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup granualted sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • ⅓ cup flour
  • 1 cup frozen blackberries
  • Vanilla ice cream

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 400F
  • Grease a small, deep rectangular baking dish (mine is a stoneware pan roughly 9 by 5 inches) or a square brownie pan will work as well
  • In a microwave safe mixing bowl that is big enough to take all the ingredients later, melt the butter and chocolate in the microwave in 30 second bursts, stirring frequently.
  • Once the chocolate and butter is melted, let it cool slightly and then stir in all the remaining ingredients.
  • Scrape the mixture into your baking dish, and place in the oven for 20 minutes. The dessert should be set around the edges, with but still be jiggly a bit in the middle.
  • Let cool for 5 minutes, serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

 

Chicken Apple Sausage Orecchiette

Mooooooom. Mom! What’s for dinner? I’m starving!!!!
How often do you hear your family asking you what’s for dinner and then tell you how incredibly hungry they are?  (As if that will magically help dinner appear on the table right then.)  You then realize the day has flown by and it’s now 6:00 pm and you have not even thought about what to make for dinner yet. Pasta is always an easy way out, but pasta with red sauce gets old after awhile, and so does garlic, olive oil, tomatoes and basil. You can only have those two dishes so many times a month.
I recently discovered a great new fast, easy, and extremely tasty and filling pasta recipe. I am forever trying to sneak veggies into our dinners to add extra nutrients, and this one is perfect. Swiss or rainbow chard will give you more vitamins and good things than kale, and it works great in this recipe. Throw in a few other staple ingredients and voila! you have a gourmet restaurant version of pasta you would pay $22 bucks for.
Having a vegan in the family I used Tofurky Chicken Apple Sausages, but if you want the real stuff, go for it. If you happen to have some other italian sausage or ground beef, these will do as well, but it’s the apple sausage that really compliments this dish so well.
The real key is using a cup of the hot water that you boiled the past in, so DO NOT DUMP YOUR PASTA WATER. Carefully scoop out about 1.5 cups of water before dumping your pasta and set it aside. Or spoon out your pasta into a colander,  then you have saved all the water in the pot for the end.

Sorry, I didn’t have time to take photos of this process and dish, but I will the next time I make this.  Then I will update this post with some pics for all of you!

Chicken Apple Sausage Orecchiette

Ingredients

  • 1 pound orecchiette ( usually 1 bag/box)
  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 package of Tofurky Chicken Apple Sausages
  • 2 med-large carrots
  • 1 med-large gala or fuji apple
  • 3 cloves minced garlic or 3 cubes frozen garlic paste
  • squirt of lemon
  • 1 bunch Rainbow Chard (or swiss chard)
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 3 tablespoons vegetarian chicken stock powder (or any other chicken or vegetable bullion)
  • Nutritional yeast or grated Parmesan to sprinkle on top
Directions

  1. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta according to package instructions.
  2. While pasta is cooking, prepare your other ingredients. Cut the sausages in half then into about 1/3 inch pieces. Next wash carrots and slice in very thin circles. Dice apple into about 1/2 inch size bites. Wash and trim stems on chard, then roll leaves up and slice into about 1/2 in strips.
  3. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high. Add sausages and cook about 3 -5 minutes.  Add carrots and apples to skillet and saute until softened – about 3- 5 minutes more.  Scoop out and place into serving bowl.
  4. Add a little more oil if needed and garlic, then toss in rainbow chard, add squirt of lemon juice; cook until wilted, about 3-4 minutes. Transfer to serving bowl with sausages.
  5. Once pasta is done, drain water (reserving about 1.5 cups of water) and place pasta in bowl with other ingredients.
  6. Add bullion to the reserved hot pasta water, mix and let dissolve. Add 1 cup to start with to the serving bowl of pasta and other ingredients. You might need the extra half cup, but add only a little at a time. This will create a light sauce that coats pasta, but you don’t want it swimming in water.
  7. Season with salt and pepper.
  8. Sprinkle with Parmesan or nutritional yeast (vegan).

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Summertime Adventures (or Be A Tourist in Your Hometown – Part 2 – South-East Sonoma County)

:::  S U M M E R   I S   H E R E  :::

Are  you sure? I am pretty sure that last month we just celebrated Valentine’s Day right?  It seems like time is somehow stuck in hyper-drive. A month goes by and I have no idea how it happened and what I did with all that time.  Now all of the sudden I have a bored pre-teen that I am apparently supposed to wait on hand and foot as if she were the royal princess of Summer-topia.  I am finding it much more difficult to keep a pre-teen entertained than a 2-7 year old. I am not sure why that is since at this age she doesn’t need 100% supervision; no diapers have to be changed, she needs no naps, we don’t need to pack a huge bag of necessities, toys, stroller or extra clothing. Yet somehow she seems more dependent on me than ever.

It’s been a few years since I was the parent at home during the day in the summer, so I decided we needed some new rules that relate to an 11 year old. So far I have been met with lots of resistance (not surprised), but I am confident that I will prevail as the grand champion.

  • Rule #1: I am not your servant, personal chef, maid, butler, or taxi-cab.
  • Rule #2: You still have to read a book at least 30 minutes a day.
  • Rule #3: You have to help do chores and special projects around the house.
  • Rule #4: You cannot sit and watch TV or movies all day long.
  • Rule #5: You cannot sit and play on your phone or other electronic device all day long.
  • Rule #6: You can stay up late, as long as you get up at a reasonable time the next morning.

Luckily for us one of her best friends lives across the street. This is very helpful when having an only child. They can come and go as they want and they keep each other entertained for the most part.  But even with friends over, they all still get bored, and I have to step in and find something for everyone to do.


::: SUMMER ACTIVITIES :::

If you are looking for some affordable and/or free things to do this summer, I have a few fun and interesting idea’s for you. We have been to all of these places and we just love them!  For fun things to do out west please see my earlier blog post: Be a Tourist in your Hometown

JELLY BELLY FACTORY – Vacaville, CA  – Free factory tours, plus free samples and a free bag of Jelly Bellies for everyone!  I realize this is not in Sonoma County, but it is located only about an hour from Santa Rosa and this makes for a fun day. The tour is about 40 minutes, includes videos and history of the company and on weekdays you can see all the workers in the factory and all the machines going. Weekends the factory workers have off, so it’s a little less exciting, but it is still fun. They also give out free chocolate and fudge samples in the gift shop, plus you can go through the line at the jelly bean sample bar as many times as you want and try all the flavors. They do have a  cafe with all sorts of Jelly Bean shaped food which is ok, but not great.  However if you are coming from Northern Sonoma County and take hwy 116 exit in Petaluma, there is a wonderful place to stop and eat either on the way to the Jelly Belly Factory or on the way back called The Fremont Diner (see next item on this list below).

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THE FREMONT DINER – Carneros Hwy Between Sonoma and Napa (AKA Hwy 121/12) – On your way out to or back from Vacaville, (honestly anytime you want an amazing home cooked, farm fresh, locally grown, organic, free range, utterly fantastic food) stop by this quaint historic landmark for some tasty grub that will knock your socks off. They grow as much of their own food as possible in their gardens, or they get it locally.  You will be treated like family as you sit inside and enjoy the antiques or outside at a picnic table in their “backyard”. Amazing views when you sit outside with gorgeous vineyards on the hills. Once we were treated to a rare double rainbow at sunset as we dined outside.  Check out their seasonal menu (they serve what’s fresh!) however they always have the popular dishes such as the Deviled Eggs, Nashville Fried Chicken, Fremont Burger and Mac-n-cheese. They serve breakfast, lunch and dinner. If you happen to have $5 bucks in your pocket, be sure to go inside and have your photos done in the Chicken Coop Photo Booth. You get two strips of 4 poses so you can share with a friend!

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CORNERSTONE SONOMA – (About 5 minutes from Fremont Diner)  Sonoma, CA – It’s hard to describe exactly what Cornerstone is. It’s part art exhibit, part garden, mix in some interactive outdoor experiences, and throw in a cafe and a wine tasting room and there you have it. What is so cool about it is that this kind of art appeals to all ages and types of people,  and the opportunity to wander & experience the outdoor art gardens is completely free. The gardens have separate sections and each one has something different and unique, created by some pretty clever artists. One of my favorites is the metal tunnel, called RISE. It has great acoustics and its fun to sing inside of it. There’s also a wishing tree with iridescent prismatic ribbons that you write a wish on then tie it to the”tree”. The ribbons sway in the breeze making the rainbow colors so vibrant and beautiful. If you are hungry you can stop and grab a bite to eat at the cafe, with indoor and outdoor seating. (Note that we have not eaten here at Park 121 yet.) Or bring a snack ans sit out on the grass in the middle of the gardens. Lots of fun adventures and silly photos are bound to keep any child or adult entertained for hours.

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CLINE CELLARS – Sonoma, CA – Just a hop, skip and a jump from Cornerstone, is Cline Cellars.  Cline Cellars has some beautiful property that makes for a wonderful morning or afternoon walk. They have a small tasting room (free tasting of 5 non-reserve wines), California Missions Museum (also free), gorgeous pond, gardens, and even some beautiful pheasants and other exotic looking birds, they also offer tours of the estate.  This makes Cline Cellars a perfect stop with or with out kids. For those wine snobs out there, Cline Cellars are well known for having Ancient Vines, some of the oldest and most rare grapevines in California that range in age from 80 to 120 years old.  They are also pesticide free and sustain organic practices on all their vineyards.

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JACUZZI WINERY– Sonoma, CA – Only 417 feet from Cline Cellars is this fabulous Italian themed winery. They have a beautiful tasting room, food & gift shop. Here you can also sample glorious house made olive oils and vinegars.  Like Cline Cellars, they offer a complimentary wine tasting of 5 of their non-reserve wines. The grounds are spectacular and you almost feel as if you are on vacation in Italy, and yes they are the ones who invented the “Jacuzzi Spa Tub”. Go ahead and take some photos of yourself while you are here, your friends will be jealous that you are in Tuscany!

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