Monday, December 21, 2009

Gingerbread Men

There is no denying that Gingerbread Men are the ideal Christmas cookie. Their spicy dough, combined with the excitement of decorating them truly gets you in the holiday spirit. The following recipe is from one of my favorite vegan websites, PPK stands for The Post Punk Kitchen, and it provides a forum for vegans to share recipes, discuss policies, and post pictures of what they made. Not surprisingly, the site itself was founded by the author of Veganomicon, Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World, and Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar, so you know that it is legit.

The Gingerbread Men I made were decorated with Red Hots and a simple icing consisting of confectioners sugar and water. Aren't they just the cutest little guys you have ever seen??

Gingerbread Men

1/3 cup canola oil

3/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup molasses

1/4 cup soymilk

2 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon each of ground nutmeg, cloves and cinnamon

1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger

Beat together oil and sugar for 3 minutes in a large bowl. Add molasses and soymilk. Stir together.
In another bowl, sift together all of the other ingredients.
Add the dry ingredients to the wet in batches. Mix together with a firm spoon. The dough should be stiff. Mold into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill for at least an hour.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease your cookie sheets.
On a floured surface, roll out the dough to a little less than 1/4 inch thick. Cut out your shapes with cookie cutters and gently place on cookie sheets. Bake for about 10 minutes.
Remove from oven and let them cool for two minutes on a baking sheet before moving to a cooling rack. Wait until they are completely cool until icing.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Christmas Cookies: Apricot Thumbprints

Now that I'm home at last for Christmas, the cookie baking marathon has begun. Some recipes will be vegan, others will not be, but all will be deliciously dangerous and will, without a doubt, make you want to crash a cookie exchange party just to show off your fine work.

Apricot Thumbprints were my grandma's specialty. They are a family favorite, and Christmas wouldn't feel the same without devouring a platefull of these small fruity cookies over the course of two days. I have a firm belief in passing traditional family recipes down through generations, so I left them non-vegan, in all of their buttery, eggy glory.

Though my mom and I can never make them as good as grandma could, the ones we made today came pretty close!

And one more note, I finally recharged my camera so expect the pictures of my baked goods to be exponentially better than the ones I have been posting!

Apricot Thumbprints

For Jam:
Chopped dried apricots

In a saucepan over medium heat, place chopped walnuts. Heat with sugar, adding small amounts of water as needed. Cook until the consistency is jam-like, and all the water has been evaporated. You should end up with about a cup of jam.
Set aside.

For Cookies:
1/2 cup butter

1/4 cup brown sugar

1 egg, separated

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup finely chopped walnuts, in a separate bowl

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Beat egg yolk, butter, sugar and vanilla together. Slowly add in salt and flour until made into a dough.
Form dough into 1 inch balls.
Beat egg white slightly and place in a small bowl on the side. Dip each ball into egg whites and then roll into nuts. Place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.
Press thumb deeply into the center of each. Bake for about 12 minutes, until light brown. Remove from oven and fill with jam.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Christmas Gingerbread Houses

What better way to celebrate the holiday season than sittin' down with some friends, flipping the Comcast to Christmas music, and building your very own gingerbread house?! After deciding that we had a craving to make a cookie abode, my friends and I searched for the perfect pre-made building supplies. But lo and behold, all of the gingerbread houses sold in Target were lame and chock-filled of nasty ingredients.

So off to we went to make our own awesome houses. The cookies, the frosting and candy to adorn the houses were definitely not vegan, but gingerbread houses have got to have the stability to withstand the snowy winter wonderland decorations!

We found that the hallmarks of a fancy house were in the details. Pull 'N Peel Twisters make ideal bricks for a walkway when snipped into little shards. And Jujubee bushes really added to the house's landscaping.

Can you tell which house I worked on?

Friday, December 11, 2009

Quick and Tasty Chocolate Chip Bars

The main reason why I love baking is not necessarily because of the end result. It is the process that I revel in. There are so many aspects in life that can be unpredictable and stressful. Lately I have found that the task of following steps is calming. Baking provides a departure from making decisions, an often difficult feat that all humans must make, and simply tells us what to do. When a recipe says "1 cup flour sifted with 1 teaspoon baking soda", it means just that.

While I love being creative with desserts, sometimes you just want to make something straightforward and fast, with no added tricks or potentially stress-inducing fancy techniques.

These Chocolate Chip Bars from the cookbook How It All Vegan, are simple as can be. They are easy to make and quite speedy as well. But in a crazy way, they are extremely delicious and worthy of satisfying any baking urge.

Life can wait. There are Chocolate Chip Bars to be made.

Chocolate Chip Bars
From How It All Vegan

3 1/2 cups flour

1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 cup oil

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup soy milk or water

1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sift all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl, including the sugar. Add oil, vanilla, milk and chocolate chips. Stir until just mixed. Pour batter into a 9X13 pan. Sprinkle with sanding sugar if desired. Bake for 25-30 minutes.
Let cool 10 minutes until you cut them into bars.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Gingersnaps a la Chez Panisse

Over Thanksgiving break, I stumbled upon a book called Alice Waters and Chez Panisse: The Romantic, Impractical, Often Eccentric, Ultimately Brilliant Making of A Food Revolution, by Thomas McNamee. In my ever-thirsty quest for food literature, I instantly became obsessed with the ideology of Alice Waters, the woman who literally began the now nation-wide obsession with using organic, local ingredients. The book tells the story of her restaurant Chez Panisse, which still stands in Berkley, California.

After coming across Alice Waters' recipe for Gingersnaps in her cookbook, The Art of Simple Food, I knew that I had to try it out.

Consequently, these cookies are not vegan. But they are truly outstanding- a classic. This is the gingersnap recipe that will go down in history. And what better way to celebrate the start of the holiday season than with a spicy, molasses-y cookie?

From The Art of Simple Food

2 cups flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

11 tablespoons butter, at room temperature

2/3 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 cup light molasses

1 large egg

Sugar crystals for coating the cookies (optional)

Stir together the dry ingredients. Beat butter until soft and fluffy. Add sugar and continue to beat until combined.
Stir in vanilla, molasses and egg. Mix in the dry ingredients until the dough is smooth.
Divide the dough into two equal portions and roll each one into a log about 2 inches around.
Wrap each in plastic wrap and freeze the logs until firm.

To bake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Slice cookie dough into 1/4 inch rounds. Press one side firmly into sugar until coated completely.
Place sugar-side up on the baking sheet. Bake 10-14 minutes until deep-golden brown.
Let cool 2 minutes before moving them to a cooling rack.
I think these go great when dipped in milk or with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Rich Vegetable Stock

Making homemade vegetable stock for the first time is always an event worth documenting. I used this stock in a Vegetarian Shepherd's Pie for Thanksgiving. Though you may be tempted to use a boxed veggie-broth, making it yourself will produce an exponentially more tasty outcome.

This recipe is from Gourmet magazine's "Resetting the Table" November Edition.

Rich Vegetable Stock

1/4 lb mixed portabella and cremini mushrooms, thickly sliced

1 onion, left unpeeled and cut into wedges

3 carrots, cut thickly

1 red bell pepper, cut thickly

2 garlic cloves. coarsely chopped

4 flat-leaf parsley sprigs

3 thyme sprigs

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 cup dry red wine

4 cups water

1 bay leaf

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Toss vegetables, garlic and herbs in olive oil in a large roasting pan. Roast for 35-40 minutes.
Straddle the pan across two burners on medium heat. Stir in tomato paste and cook, stirring 1 minute. Add wine and boil, stirring and scraping up the brown bits for 1 minute.
Transfer vegetables with juices to a 4-qt pot. Add water, bay leaf and 1 teaspoon salt. Simmer, covered for 45 minutes. Strain stock through a fine-mesh sieve, pressing on and then discarding the solids.
Stock keeps, chilled, 1 week.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Singin' the Turkey Blues

Last year, the task fell upon my sister and I to create an entire Thanksgiving meal, including a turkey, several side dishes, delicious desserts, wine and even a table scape. Though we had several incidents occur during our cooking ordeal, we were able to turn out a pretty impressive feast!

Read about our Turkey-saga on my sister's blog, (The Printed Thought), with instructions on how to cook your own perfect turkey!

Good Luck in all your Thanksgiving endeavors!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Angelic Apple Crisp

Apple crisp, (referred to as apple cobbler by some), is a comfort dessert that takes little effort to make, but is always a pleaser. Pair this with some vanilla ice cream and a drizzle of caramel if you are feeling snazzy. I also advise serving the crisp immediately after you take it out of the oven so the ice cream melts from the heat. And yes, this treat is suitable for breakfast as well as dessert.
(Picture from

Angelic Apple Crisp
From How It All Vegan

6-8 apples, (I used Gala with great results)

1/3 cup apple juice

1/2 cup maple syrup

1 cup rolled oats

1/2 cup flour

1/4 cup butter or vegan margarine

1/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

dash of salt

dash of nutmeg

1 box vanilla ice cream, (or soy ice cream for vegans)

caramel topping (optional)

Core and slice the apples into small chunks. Place into a lightly oiled baking dish. Mix together the apple juice and maple syrup in a small bowl and pour it over the apple mixture. In another bowl, combine the sugar, flour, spices and butter. Make sure the butter is evenly distributed throughout the dry mixture. Sprinkle the oat mixture over the apples and bake for 30-40 minutes, until the topping is browned and crispy.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Pumpkin Pie

In my obsession with all things pumpkin this month, I am posting a recipe that will be of use to many in a few weeks: Pumpkin Pie! After my newly-formed vegan friend made this delicious cold-weather treat, I was so flabbergasted that it was made without animal products that I demanded to be sent the recipe. I was promptly directed to a fantastic website,, that gives great tips on how to live a cruelty-free lifestyle. And bonus: the website just so happens to be produced by Alicia Silverstone! Who knew the former star of Clueless was vegan?

Now go get pie-faced.

Pumpkin Pie

1 can pumpkin puree, (16 ounces)

1/2 cup maple syrup

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1 teaspoon ground allspice

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

2-3 tablespoons cornstarch

1 package silken/soft tofu

1 9-inch unbaked vegan pie shell, preferably sugar-free

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Blend the pumpkin and maple syrup together. Add salt, spices, cornstarch and tofu. Mix thoroughly. Pour mixture into the pie shell and bake for 15 minutes.
Lower the heat to 350 degrees and bake for another 60 minutes.
Chill and serve.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Potluck Pumpkin Pizza

For a potluck dinner recently hosted at my house, my roommate and I brainstormed a fall-esque recipe that would really impress our friends. Though we dabbled with the idea of make risotto, we were turned off by the idea of stirring over a hot stove for an hour.

We came up with what we called the pumpkin pizza. Sounds odd, but when you deliver this healthy, bright orange disk to a table chock full of great people, the "oooohs and ahhhhs" will come in droves.

Pumpkin Pizza
Serves 8
1 whole wheat, thin pizza crust (Find a good one in a natural foods store)

1 can pumpkin puree

1 cup chopped walnuts

2 small gala apples, cut into thin slices

1/2 log goat cheese, crumbled

salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven according to the package directions on the thin crust. Smear a big layer of pumpkin puree all over the crust. Take sliced apples and layer them over the pumpkin. Sprinkle the walnuts over the pizza, making sure they stick to the pumpkin puree. Place the pizza in the oven, keeping an eye on it to prevent burning. About 30 minutes later, remove the pizza. Dot the entire pie with goat cheese while the pizza is still hot. Slice into 8 servings.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

A Quick Word About Dirt

Late last night, way past the hour that I should have eaten, I was fixin' for a good dinner. Having eaten pretty much the same thing the past few nights, I decided to cook a lovely, refreshing, hearty meal. So off to the supermarket I ventured, and found among other things, a beautiful, dark green head of leafy kale, on sale no less! Estatic about my find, I was so excited to steam it that I merely bypassed the washing phase of the process.

Now somewhere in the deep recesses of my mind there was a voice urging me to give this lettuce relative a good rinse. But in my zeal, it was promptly ignored. In went the kale with a saute of onions, garlic, lemon juice, tomatoes and balsamic vinegar. A perfect combination if you ask me. There may have even been a clove or two of garlic in there also. But as I took that first bite of what I thought would be satisfying, my mouth was filled with the sediment-y, crunchy sensation one only knows as dirt.

To spare yourself the horror of ruining a perfecly good dish, I warn you, wash your kale!

Chickpea Kale Saute
(these values are loose and can be altered according to taste)

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 can chickpeas

1/2 red onion

2 cloves garlic

1 bunch chopped and WASHED kale, (about 2 huge handfuls)

1 splash lemon juice

2 tomatoes, chopped

2 splashes balsamic vinegar

1/4 cup water

salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil in a saucepan on medium. Saute chopped onions until soft. Add garlic and cook for a few more minutes. Dump can of chickpeas into saucepan. Add tomatoes. Cook for around 5 minutes. Add kale to pot. Add 1/4 cup water and lemon juice. Cover. Cook until the kale is completely wilted. Remove from heat and drain mixture. Place in bowl. Splash with balsamic vinegar. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Pumpkin Oatmeal Breakfast

(photo by

Tonight I was chatting with a friend of mine who spoke of how she discovered something delicious to make for breakfast. She called it Pumpkin Oatmeal, and confessed that the reason she actually went to sleep at night was due to the prospect of eating a juicy meal in the morning.

She described that after she makes a bowl of plain oatmeal, she takes a spoonful of organic pumpkin puree and drops it over the hot grain. She then sprinkles brown sugar and cinnamon over it to seal the deal!

As the weather turns colder, trees morph into the colors of fire and, (with Halloween this weekend), jack-o-lanterns stare at me from every porch, I have been craving to bake something that has the intense spicy-sweetness of pumpkin. Except baking bread or muffins has just been out of the question with midterms this week.

Pumpkin Oatmeal will satisfy my wish to eat Autumnal food while ensuring that I will still pass my courses.

Now I'm excited to go to sleep tonight just to wake up. That doesn't say food-obsessed right?
Thanks for the recipe friend!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Homemade Granola

Granola is one of those foods that are so easy to make, but are almost always bought packaged. While there are countless great brands that make all natural, organic, and delicious blends of granola out there, (Galaxy Granola is my favorite when I don't have access to any machine resembling an oven), there is simply no excuse not to make your own when it is so simple and speedy. Not to mention that granola making is a fantastic avenue to express your creative side!

All sorts of fruit, nuts and seeds can be added to alter the taste and nutritional value. While there are many recipes out there that call for eons of sugar, I prefer my granola to be only slightly sweet. Honey takes care of that. The sweet-tooths out there may want to add a few tablespoons to the mixture.

Homemade Granola

2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats

1/4 cup honey

just enough olive oil to coat the oats, about 4 tablespoons

1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice mix

1 teaspoon cinnamon

3 tablespoons sugar, (optional)

1/2 cup nuts (almonds are delicious)

1/2 cup raisins or other types of dried fruit

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

Heat oven to 350 degrees.
Combine olive oil and honey in a small bowl. Heat for about 30 seconds in the microwave. In another bowl, combine oats, spices and sugars. Pour the hot oil and honey over to coat completely. Stir in nuts, fruit or any other add-ins.

Spread oats into a greased cookie pan. Press gently. Place into the oven and bake until golden brown! Check often to make sure none of the fruit is burnt.

Serve with soy or almond milk, drizzled with a little honey. This would also great if it topped off a cup of Fage or Soy yogurt.

Monday, October 19, 2009


Are you bored and looking for a way to procrastinate? Perhaps you're looking for some vegan-inspiration?

Check out

A place where people post pictures of their positively pot-belly inducing concoctions.

'Nuff said.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

The Runcible Spoon

As a part time job, (read: weekend job), I work at a fantastic little restaurant called The Runcible Spoon. Named after a line in the poem, "The Owl and The Pussycat" by Edward Lear, The Spoon, as we call it, epitomizes the artsy progressive vibe my college town of Bloomington, IN is known for. The Spoon is commonly thought of as having the best coffee in town not only because the owners are nothing short of coffee- connoisseurs, but also because the beans are roasted on site, right in the restaurant.

The food is outstanding and real, and though they serve meat, there are several vegan and vegetarian options.

Below is an article I wrote reviewing them some years ago that appeared in the Indiana University student newspaper, the IDS.

A Home Away From Home
By Jenna Blumenfeld

Upon entering the house-turned-restaurant Runcible Spoon, I felt as though I had been invited there for dinner. My friend and I were invited to sit where we pleased; choosing a pair of worn armchairs snuggled in the corner of a room. The peppy hostess greeted us like we had been friends for years, and all of my anxieties of college life trickled away from me.

Rustic homemade meals are characteristic of Runcible Spoon head chefs David Nash and Matt O’Neil, harkening back to simpler days before fast food and all you can eat buffets. The ingredients in the lunch and dinner menus are quite simple and few, but they sure do pack a punch.

We began our meals with soup: I with the black bean vegetable, and my friend with the tomato garlic and basil. Served with lightly toasted, super-dark pumpernickel bread, our starters were brought to us promptly by our charismatic waiter. Though the black bean soup was decent, it lacked the zesty and sweet-spicy vigor of the tomato soup. Consequently, I kept mooching spoonfuls of the tomato soup from my friend, losing myself in its melting pot of flavors, while the black bean stood abandoned.

Our two entrees were equally delicious. Craving lighter fare, I went with the “Veg Plate”: a succulent blend of piping hot seasonal sautéed veggies, piled high over a bed of lightly fried potatoes, which tasted almost like the hash browns Runcible Spoon is famous for in its breakfast menu. The flavors of the vegetables worked well together, blending carrots, onions, zucchini, spinach and tomatoes that burst in my mouth when I bit them, releasing their fruity juices. The plate was topped with the freshly chopped basil found in the tomato soup, adding another dimension of character to the dish.

My friend ordered a burger for his meal. As savory and juicy as they come, layered with lettuce, onion and tomato; sandwiched between toasted buns, you wouldn’t even know it was a veggie burger. Entitled the “Spicy Black Bean Burger”, the hallmark of American barbeque cuisine is made over into a healthful, grease-free alternative that preserves all the rugged allure of its beef counterpart, without the gastro-intestinal sorrow. And for an astronomically low price of $4.95, we felt almost guilty for getting so much satisfaction out of the dish.

To finish off our dinner, we wallowed in the sexy, sultry richness of the Triple Chocolate Bundt Cake. Generously cut, the cake was drizzled with two different types of chocolate, and flanked by massive mounds of fresh whipped cream. Make sure to have a cup of in-house roasted, fair trade coffee the café-section of the restaurant serves, because you will need something strong to match the depth of the cake.

Though the food was outstanding, the eccentric character of the Runcible Spoon would keep me coming back again and again. Nowhere else do friendly conversations regularly leap from table to table nor do Celtic musicians hold their band practices in the side room. The people who eat there are fixtures of the restaurant, and it has true potential to be a home away from home.

So if you ever find yourself wandering through Bloomington, Indiana, starving and fixin' for a good meal, The Runcible Spoon is the place to go. Who knows, you might even bump into me!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Soy Crisp Mania

Despite how much I love natural, real food, sometimes there is nothing I want more than a massive handful of chips. I think its the salt that I crave, or maybe I just want junk food in general, but I am a chip-head at heart. Of course, regular potato chips can carry a bunch of processed, artificial ingredients in them that will make anyone have a stomachache.

And that is where Genisoy's Soy Crisps come to the rescue. With 7 grams of protein and 3 grams of fat per serving, ingredients with names like "soy flour", "cane juice", "onion powder" and "rice pieces", chip cravings can be fed without feeling like a heifer or a couch potato. They can be found in the natural section of any supermarket, in oodles of tasty flavors. Try the Zesty BBQ for a little spice. Want Chez-Its? Go for the Cheddar flavor.

For an out-of-world experience, pair these tasty morsels of delight with a bowl full of salsa. All you need is a TV and a DVD of Arrested Development episodes and your day will officially reach veg-out status.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Home In Cookie Form

All cookies are great. Snickerdoodles, oatmeal raisin, maple walnut: who doesn't love a sugary, chunky blast of dessert? That said, the smell of the cookie that reminds me most of home is without a doubt, the coveted chocolate chip cookie. Classic and simple in the best sense, the cookie smell that emits from the oven brings me right back to my customary after-school snack. Even when I was in high school, coming back after field hockey or lacrosse practice to a nice, big chewy chocolate chip cookie will forever create a cozy feeling.

While I used to eat cookies with milk, these vegan chocolate chip ones taste the best with soymilk.

Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies
From How It All Vegan

3/4 cups dry sweetener

1/2 cup margarine (I used Earth Balance)

1/2 cup oil

3 tablespoons water

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 1/4 flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Stir the sweetener with the wet ingredients together. In a separate bowl, sift the dry ingredients together. Add the wet ingredients to the dry. Mix in chocolate chips. Drop dough in spoonfuls on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes, until the edges are brown.
Eat and return home for a few minutes.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Vegan Diner for Activism

In Indiana there is currently a large controversy surrounding the I-69 highway that is being built. Over 400 families have or will be evicted from their homes to make way for the new construction and 7,000 acres of land will be paved over. When two Bloomington, IN residents recently received extremely large tickets while protesting the highway, their friends decided to host a vegan diner to help cushion their legal costs.

I attended the "diner" (which was held in a local house) this Saturday, and was blown away by the deliciousness of the meal!

For $5 I was given a plate of scrambled tofu, pancakes, steamed kale, seitan sausage and unlimited amounts of coffee. So inspired was I by the brunch that I acquired my very own vegan cookbook later that day: How It All Vegan, by Tanya Barnard and Sarah Kramer.

Below is a recipe for scrambled tofu similar to the one I so loved at the diner. I assure you, nothing tastes better than vegan fare with a cause.

Vegetable Tofu Scrambler
From How It All Vegan, makes 2 or more servings.

1/2 medium onion

4-5 mushrooms, sliced

splash of olive oil

1 package firm tofu, crumbled

1-2 tsp curry powder

pepper to taste

salsa to taste

2 stalks green onions, chopped

In a large saucepan, add the onions and mushrooms to a splash of oil and saute on medium-high heat until the onions are translucent. Crumble tofu and add to saucepan. Add curry and pepper. Saute 10-12 minutes until moisture has evaporated. Add salsa and green onions and scramble on high heat for 2-3 minutes.
Note: You could also add any other veggies!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Vegan Wines

It is always surprising when I find out that some of my favorite items are not vegan. Take wine for example. We all know that wine consists of grapes and maybe a little yeast. But the process by which wine is made is usually non-vegan. Most wines use the bones of animals, ground up small, to fashion a sieve. The liquid is forced through to extract grape debris. While no one wants chunks of grape skins in their vino, the idea of a powdered skeleton coming into contact with my drink is not too savory either.

Whats a vegan to do?

Luckily, there are many brands of wine that use alternative strainers. Yellow Tail is absolutely fantastic because the company offers many types of wine, for around $6 per bottle. And there are many vegan options!!

To make sure your wine is vegan, visit this site:

Now drink up!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Vegan Month of October (VEGAN MOFO)

For the first time ever, I am partaking in a massive community event, called Vegan Mofo, to write about veganism for the month of October. While I will shoot for writing a little somethin' somethin' every day, lets face it, we all have lives outside the online world.

That said, expect news updates, new recipes, old recipes, cool photographs... basically anything that has to do with veganism is game.

I remind you that I am not a vegan, but a vegetarian. In the spirit of Vegan MoFo, I will attempt to be vegan for the Month of October. I am a little terrified of not being able to eat milk chocolate Halloween candy, or Jelly Bellies, (I have to double check if they have gelatin in them), but I'm pretty positive that I can relinquish my love of cheese for a mere 30 days.

Happy Mofoing!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Craz-E Burger is a Hit!

Remember that hulking monster of a burger I described last week? The one sold at The Big E Fair in West Springfield, Massachusetts? The one with beef, cheese and bacon, all smacked between a doughnut bun?

Well what do you know, the Craz-E Burger has fair folk going insane. Sales for the burger are so high, that on the first day, chefs even ran out of doughnuts.

See footage of the brave few who tried to tackle the beast:

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Risotto with Roasted Vegetables

After visiting the farmers market one Saturday afternoon, I became smitten with the produce sold at the booths. Armies of butternut squash stood tall, while squat eggplants lingered nearby. Red peppers were large and beautiful, streaked with green slashes of color- hallmarks of their idiosyncrasy and charm.

To really showcase the goodies, my roommate and I constructed a glorious meal out of risotto, spiked with red wine, and paired with roasted vegetables. Pretty straight forward, but elegant in it's own right.

Try to roast the very best vegetables because their flavor will become concentrated and add immensely to the dish. We topped this with a smidgen of goat cheese to add a creamy depth to the meal.

Risotto with Roasted Vegetables

1 cup arborio rice

1 teaspoon salt

lots of freshly ground pepper

1 box organic vegetable broth

A few splashes of red wine

1 eggplant, sliced into chunks

1 butternut squash, chunked

1 onion, sliced and chunked

2 zucchinis or yellow squash, slices and quartered

2 red peppers, sliced and chunked

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons dried basil or oregano

Organic, high quality goat cheese (optional)

Heat oven to 450 degrees. Place vegetables on a large baking sheet and massage with olive oil. Sprinkle salt, pepper and dried herbs over. Put in oven for 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat 1 cup of vegetable broth. When it comes to a boil, add arborio rice. Reduce heat to medium. Stirring constantly, keep adding more broth when the liquid is absorbed by the rice. This should take a relatively long time, around 30 minutes, but keep stirring! When the rice has absorbed ALMOST as much as it can, add a few splashes of wine for more flavor.
When the liquid is gone and the rice is tender with a slight bite, it is done! Serve in a bowl with roasted vegetables on top. Sprinkle goat cheese on the hot rice and vegetables so it melts a little.
Can you say yum?

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Craz-E Burger!!

Every fall in West Springfield, Massachusetts, something peculiar happens. Cream puffs as large as your head, gigantic eclairs and monumental chocolate chip cookies are sold at New England's largest country fair, The Big-E. This year, the fair will feature a whopping monster of a burger entitled The Craz-E Burger. Made with beef, cheese, bacon and a donut grilled in butter there is no question as to how the burger earned its name.

Is it vegetarian? No.
Is it vegan? Absolutely not.

But my oh my it is a fantastic exhibition of patriotic indulgence in the best possible way.

To get one in your own hands, the Big E takes place Sept. 18 – Oct. 4, 2009, (

Or if you can't get to Massachusetts, make one yourself!

The Craz-E Burger
As sold at the Big-E Fair

1 beef patty

American Cheese

Crisp bacon

Butter grilled glazed donut

Carefully slice the donut in half, lightly butter and grill. Add cooked burger, top with cheese and crisp bacon.
Place in between the donut halves.
No condiments are needed.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Birthday Carrot Cake!

For my dear roommate's 22nd birthday, I created the most delicious cake I have ever made. She is not a huge fan of chocolate, so I turned to my trusty Vegan With a Vengeance cookbook for some advice. As I was flipping through the pages, I came across a picture of a big, bright orange slab of carrot cake, topped with coconut icing.

And so, off to the store I went, gathering the many items needed: crystalized ginger, maple syrup, pineapple juice...who knew that such a varied array of ingredients would combine into one perfect birthday baked good?

Though the original recipe called for macadamia nuts, I used hazelnuts instead. You would not think that a nut usually paired with chocolate would work in a carrot cake but did it ever!

I finished off the cake with some beautiful trail mix decorations.

Needless to say, this cake was a birthday miracle.

Ginger-Macadamia (or Hazelnut)-Coconut Carrot Cake with Coconut Frosting
As seen in Isa Moskowitz's Vegan With a Vengeance

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour, (I used whole wheat pastry flour)

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoons ground nutmeg

1 cup pineapple juice (i used one with tidbits in it for juicy surprises)

1/2 cup canola oil

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup maple syrup

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup macadamia nuts, (or hazelnut)

1/4 cup chopped crystallized ginger

1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

2 cups carrot, grated

Almonds and dried cherries for decoration

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease 2 round cake pans.
Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices together.
In another bowl, combine pineapple, oil, sugar, maple syrup and vanilla. Add the dry ingredients to the wet in small batches. Combine well.
Stir in nuts, ginger, coconut and carrots.
Divide the batter into the two cake pans and bake for around 40 minutes, or until a fork inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Let cool. Put a layer of icing between the layers and on the outside of the cake.

Coconut Icing

1/4 cup Earth Balance Butter

1/4 cup coconut milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups confectioners sugar

1 cup unsweetened coconut

Almonds and Dried Cherries

Cream butter until light and fluffy. Add coconut milk and vanilla. Add sugar until smooth.
Toast the coconut in a 350 degree oven until light brown. This will take about 10 minutes.
Press the coconut on the top of a frosted cake, and decorate with almonds and dried cherries.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Strawberry Pie

Sometimes, simplicity is beauty. For my roommates and neighbors, making a strawberry pie one mellow Saturday night was a bomb way to rejoice in the uncomplicated taste of late summer.

This pie features strawberries, (which are quite cheap now that the season is ending), and all you need to bring out their flavor is sugar. Really!

I don't possess a food processor, and I wasn't about to try and make my own pie crust without one. So frozen crusts were used instead, making this a cinch to whip up.

Strawberry Pie

2 quarts strawberries, quartered and hulled

1 cup sugar

1/3 cup cornstarch

2 pie crusts

Preheat oven to 450.
Put the cut strawberries in a bowl with the sugar and let sit for 1 hour. Drain juices.
Add cornstarch.
Pour filling into 1 crust.
Cover with another crust, cut two slits with a knife.
Bake 25 minutes.
Reduce oven temperature to 400, and bake for 30 more minutes, until filling is bubbling.
The end!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Banana Bread

Every time I make banana bread, it is such an impromptu and spur the of moment decision. Without even thinking, when I see a banana that is way past it's prime, I shove it in the freezer. Eventually an arsenal of seemingly unusable brown bananas grow, and they are like ugly ducklings just begging to be transformed into something beautiful. And everything about banana bread is beautiful. The gentle splitting of the top of the bread as it bakes, the flecks of brown dotting the inside of the bread, and, if you add them, the luscious shine of the chocolate chips.

I found the following recipe on the blog, Smitten Kitchen. Adding a splash of bourbon was optional, and I wish that I had had some on hand to try. However, it is delicious without it. I also used 1/4 cup olive oil instead of the 1/3 cup butter the recipe called for.

Banana Bread
From the Blog, Smitten Kitchen

3-4 ripe bananas

1/4 cup olive oil

1 cup light brown sugar

1 egg, beaten

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 tablespoon bourbon, (optional)

1 teaspoon baking soda

Pinch salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

Pinch ground cloves

1 1/2 cups flour

2 cups chocolate chips (I added these)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. With a wooden spoon, mix mashed bananas with the olive oil. Add the sugar, egg, vanilla and bourbon if using. Mix well. Add the spices. Sprinkle the salt and baking soda over the mixture. Add the chocolate chips. Mix in the flour. Pour into a greased bread pan, and bake for about 50 minutes, until a wooden tester comes out clean.
Cool and devour.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Pumpkin Muffins

The Stealthy Pumpkin Muffin sits quietly, waiting for the perfect moment to strike. Though there are many recipes calling for pumpkin, few are capable of leading the pack as well as the one found in the cookbook, The Food You Crave. The muffin's dark, deep brown color, usually indicative of a nut-bran muffin, camouflages its true deliciousness. But fear not food adventurer, this breakfast goodie is unique with its earthy, spicy flavor.
Indeed, like a lion stalking its prey, it will lure you into the kitchen with it's addictive aroma.

Have a wild morning!

Pumpkin Muffins
From Ellie Krieger's The Food You Crave

Cooking spray
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole-wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
3 tablespoons molasses
1/4 cup canola oil
2 large eggs
1 cup canned solid-packed pumpkin
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup lowfat milk (+ 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar)
1/4 cup unsalted raw pumpkin seeds (optional)
Sanding sugar (optional)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Coat a 12-cup muffin pan with cooking spray.
In a small bowl, whisk the milk and the apple cider vinegar. Set aside.
Whisk together both flours, baking soda, salt and spices. In a separate bowl, whisk together the sugar, molasses, oil and one of the eggs until combined. Add the other egg and combine.
Alternate the flour mixture with the milk mixture, stirring each time more flour is added, until just combined.
Pour the batter into the prepared muffin tins about 2/3 full.
While the recipe calls for topping the muffins with pumpkin seeds, I opted for sanding sugar!
Tap the pan several times to remove air bubbles.
Bake around 20 minutes.
Serve while still warm!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Cake Decoration!

Question: What is the best cake to make for a 3-year old girl's birthday party?

Answer: A Dora The Explorer Cake of course!

After being commissioned to decorate a birthday cake for a little girl I babysit, I got a chance to unleash my inner "Ace of Cakes". Though it took over 3 hours, I am quite pleased with the result! Be advised: this cake is about as far away as a cake can get from being vegan. But if it made a little girl smile, I don't think it matters.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Lemon Blueberry Muffins

There has always been something so clean and new about breakfast. What other part of the day has the consistent feelings of possibility? With so many hours ahead before the next nightfall.....


I doubt any morning is actually that idyllic. Usually I can't function like a normal human being before downing a big mug of coffee. Imagine for a moment: blinded by the lights of your kitchen, groggy from the previous night's spotty sleep. And then, with the blessed beep of the coffee machine, signaling that the coffee is ready, comes salvation. Coffee invigorates, coffee wakes. Good coffee is an essential ingredient to a good morning.

Of course, to get the most out of your coffee, you must have the perfect muffin. Blueberry picking is a summer tradition in my family, and with so many extra blueberries lying around, we have had the time to develop and fine-tune some truly outstanding recipes that showcase the fruit. The one below is one of my favorites.

Lemony Blueberry Muffins
makes around 15 muffins

2 cups flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

Lemon zest from 1 lemon

3/4 cups sugar

1 cup milk

1/3 cup canola oil

1 teaspoon lemon extract

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

1 1/2 cups blueberries

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line muffin pan with paper cups.
Combine flour, baking soda, salt and lemon zest.
In another bowl, combine sugar, milk, oil, extract and vinegar. Mix well.
Add dry ingredients to the wet until just combined, do not overmix.
Fold in berries gently.
Fill the muffin cups about 2/3rds full.
Bake until golden brown, around 23 minutes. Check after 20 minutes because oven temperatures vary!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Orzo Salad

I am the last person to deny the world more sweets, but once in a while I crave a delicious savory dish, vegetarian of course.

My Mom would agree with me, that after a long hectic day, nothing is more relaxing and satisfying as watching the Food Network for a show or two. Although I regret to have fallen into the national obsession with Giada De Laurentis, no one can deny that her recipes are chic in a casual, understated sort of way. Take the Orzo Salad for instance. In an episode based around alfresco dining, the salad represents the truly great, yet simple, way in which modern cooking can be fast, easy and divine. In this recipe a smaller amount of olive oil was used for a less "wet" texture.

My Mom is the guest chef for this post, so she takes all the credit for making the Orzo Salad!

Orzo Salad

4 cups chicken, (or vegetable!) broth

1 1/2 cups orzo

1 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed

1 1/2 cups of grape tomatoes, halved

3/4 cup finely chopped red onion

1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves

1/4 cup chopped mint leaves

3/4 cup red wine vinaigrette

Red Wine Vinaigrette

1/2 cup red wine vinegar

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

2 teaspoons honey

2 teaspoons salt

3/4 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

Bring the broth to a boil over high heat- stir in the orzo. Cover partially and cook until tender, around 7 minutes. Drain orzo an transfer to large bowl. Toss orzo with beans, tomatoes, onion, basil, mint, and enough vinaigrette to coat. Season with salt and pepper.
Serve hot or cold, preferably outside.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Carrot Oatmeal Cookies

As a pastry chef-in-training, I am bound to produce some truly horrific creations from my oven. Last week, in an attempt to bake Heidi Swanson's "Carrot Oatmeal Cookies" on her blog,, I made a little mistake. In the recipe, she called for the ingredient, Whole Wheat Pastry Flour. In my kitchen I had whole wheat flour. I also had pastry flour. But I did not have whole wheat pastry flour. Not to diminish the nutrition of the cookie, I decided to use the plain whole wheat flour. Consequently, my punishment was a dry, crumbly mound of ingredients that were more health pellets than cookies. Though the flavor was there, the consistency was just awful.

And so, as with anything in life that goes wrong, I decided to learn from my mistakes and try again. I used all-purpose flour this time, with painstakingly precise measurements of the wet ingredients. I followed the recipe quite accurately with the exception of almonds for walnuts and olive oil for coconut oil and was rewarded with a soft, chunky cookie, just slightly sweet. Sure they are still healthy, but now no one has to know.

Carrot Oatmeal Cookies
makes about 2 dozen

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup shredded carrot

2/3 cup chopped almonds

1/2 cup olive oil

1/2 cup maple syrup

1 cup rolled oats

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon ground ginger

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Whisk the flour, salt, baking powder and oats together. Add carrots, ginger, nuts.
Combine the oil and syrup together and pour over flour mixture. Stir until combined and the wet ingredients are incorporated.
Drop rounded tablespoon-fulls of the batter onto parchment-paper lined cookie sheets.
Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until golden brown.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Cowboy Cookies Revised

After discovering that she had an allergy to dairy, my sister Julie created perhaps the most delicious, albeit addicting, cookie I have ever encountered. Though the original recipe can be found on the Martha Stewart website, the recipe below calls for coconut oil in lieu of butter. Coconut oil is an ideal substitution for butter because it can be traded for the exact same quantities. Because coconut oil is, like butter, a solid at room temperature, it must be slightly melted in a microwave before being mixed. In effect, the cookie emits a slightly tropical, ethereal smell in the kitchen while baking, conjuring images of a Hawaiian bakery. In my much idealized cookie fantasy, I can almost hear waves crashing in the distance and after a day playing in the surf, what could be better than a coconut-infused confection? Well, nothing of course.

Cowboy Cookies, With Coconut Oil

Vegetable oil cooking spray

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

8 oz coconut oil, slightly melted

3/4 cups sugar

3/4 cup light-brown sugar

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats

6 oz semisweet chocolate, cut into 1/4 inch chunks (1 cup)

3/4 cup pecan halves

1/2 cup unsweetened coconut

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat baking sheet with parchment and spray parchment with cooking spray.
Sift flour, baking soda, salt and baking powder into a medium bowl.
Beat the coconut oil and sugars with a mixer on medium-high until pale and creamy, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to medium. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla.
Reduce speed to low, and slowly add the flour mixture, beating until just combined. Beat in oats, chocolate, pecans, and coconut until combined.
Using a 1.5 inch ice cream scoop, drop dough onto baking sheets, spacing 3 inches apart.
Bake until edges of cookies begin to brown, 11-13 minutes. Let cool.
Serve on a beach, preferably on a palm leaf.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

My First Catering Job!

Okay, I do not know if this technically qualifies as a catering job because I will be employed by my father for his book party, I will not be paid and I just about begged him for the opportunity. However, I am excited nevertheless because I will be making dessert for around 30ish people!

Dad, who is a publicist in the outdoor industry, recently completed a book entitled, You Want to Go Where? which both outlines how to gain funding for expeditions through experiences he has encountered in his line of work. To celebrate the release of the book, there will be a cocktail party at the house!

Upon brainstorming how to feed a large amount of people as easily as possible, I concluded to make cupcakes. Not only because they are currently my favorite baked good, but they also eliminate the complication of plates and forks. To top it off, I recently inherited a full set of professional cake decorating supplies, and I would love to break them in.

So, like a real caterer, I took orders from my Dad. Vanilla on vanilla was the choice for the batter and the frosting, while the decorations were left up to me! I'm thinking something to go along with the "exploring" theme. Maybe tiny marzipan figures of cameras, or perhaps I could convince my Dad to let me make blue icing, and pipe on continents so the cupcakes form mini globes. If all else fails, I will buy a bunch of "around-the-world" toothpicks with flags, and stick them onto the tops- just like an explorer at the top of a snow-peaked mountain!

Stay tuned for pictures and recipes!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Rhubarb Pie- Straight From the Garden!

While taking a stroll through my Grandmother's garden, I came across a spectacular undergrowth of rhubarb plants, growing wild and abundant. Their gleaming red, sturdy stalks were not obscured by their wide, fan-like leaves, and the sheer size of the plant inspired me to bake what I used to hate: Rhubarb Pie!

Notorious for its sour, bitter taste, as a child I shied away from the odd-looking, tough vegetable. But when sweetened with sugar and enclosed in a flaky crust, something magical happens.

I obtained the recipe from a 1970's version of the Betty Crocker Cookbook, and added my own adjustments to veganize it. The recipe I used calls for 3 cups of chopped rhubarb, so thankfully it grows like a weed.

P.S. When this was finished, I may or may not have gone at it with a fork.

Fresh Rhubarb Pie

Oil Crust for a 8 Inch Pie
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup canola oil

2-3 tablespoons cold water

Measure the flour and salt into a bowl. Add oil, mix until particles are the size of small peas. Sprinkle in water, 1 tablespoon at a time, mixing until the flour is moistened and the dough almost cleans the sides of the bowl. (If dough seems dry, 1-2 tablespoons of oil can be added in addition). Gather the dough together and press firmly into a ball.
Shape the dough into a flattened round. Place between 2 strips of parchment paper.
Roll the pastry 2 inches larger than the inverted pie pan. Peel off top paper and invert the crust into the pan, easing it in slowly. Peel off top paper and finish the edge with your fingers. Set aside.

Pie Filling
1 cup sugar

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon grated orange peel

3 cups cut-up fresh rhubarb

1 tablespoon Earth Balance Spread

Oven to 425 degrees. Stir together flour, sugar and orange peel. Pour half of the rhubarb into the pastry-lined pan. Sprinkle with half of the flour mixture. Repeat with the remaining rhubarb and sugar. Dot with Earth Balance. Cover the edge with a 2-3 inch strip of aluminum foil to prevent excessive browning. Remove the foil for the last 15 minutes.
Bake 40-50 minutes or until the crust is brown and juice begins to bubble.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Chocolate Almond Cookies

Tucked deep within the East Village in New York City, there lies a fantastic little vegan restaurant called The Candle Cafe. Coveted by carnivores and plant-lovers alike, the menu specializes in creative and high caliber cuisine that is rarely found in vegan dining. So imagine my excitement when, browsing through my local bookstore, I found The Candle Cafe Cookbook, on sale for 25% no less!

The book's recipe for Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies seemed intriguing to me because of its simplicity and decidedly rich ingredients. I thought they would be perfect with a glass of vanilla soymilk for a little midnight snack!

The recipe calls for egg replacer, so I thought this would be an ideal opportunity to attempt to create my own "egg" with ground flaxseeds and water. I had read that when whisked vigorously, the flaxseeds adopt a gelatinous texture that mimics egg properties. In addition, though the recipe contains macadamia nuts, I decided to use chopped almonds instead- any Almond Joy fanatic will tell you that nothing can beat the chocolate-almond combination! So although the recipe is slightly altered from what you would find in the Candle Cafe, the cookies are pretty darn delicious!

Chocolate Almond Cookies
makes around 18 cookies

1 cup flour

1 cup sugar

1 cup chocolate chips

3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/8 teaspoon sea salt

1 cup chopped raw almonds

1/2 cup soy margarine

1 tablespoon ground flaxseeds

1/2 teaspoon water

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 tablespoons soy milk

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Combine the ground flaxseeds and water in a cup, whisk furiously for 5 minutes, until slightly syrupy and thick. Whisk together the margarine, soymilk and vanilla extract to the seeds. Set aside.
In another bowl, combine the salt, flour, sugar, nuts, chocolate chips, baking soda and cocoa powder. Mix well. Add the wet ingredients to this mixture.
Using a small ice cream soup or tablespoons, drop mounds onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.
Bake 15-18 minutes.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cupcakes

It is a shame that pumpkin is used only in the fall. With such availability it has in grocery stores in canned form, the sweet, spicy fruit can, and should be enjoyed all year round. Not to mention fruit purees have the added benefit of upping the vitamin and mineral content of any baked good.

While the pumpkin-chocolate combination is usually found in muffins, (and I won't deny it, this recipe produces one of the more dense cupcakes in "Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World"), with a bit of Cinnamon Icing this makes the perfect dessert on any night. Of course it isn't too bad for breakfast either.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cupcakes
makes a dozen

1 cup canned pumpkin

1/3 cup oil

1 cup sugar

1/4 cup soy milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Stir pumpkin, oil, sugar, soy milk and vanilla. Sift in the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Stir with a fork until just combined. (Don't overstir!). Fold in chocolate chips. Fill liners 2/3 of the way full. Bake 22-24 minutes.

Cinnamon Icing

1/2 cup confectioners sugar

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

2 tablespoons Earth Balance margarine, melted

1 tablespoon soy milk

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Whisk together all ingredients until the mixture is opaque and dark brown. Once the cupcakes are cooled, squiggle the icing across the top in decorative patterns.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Mocha Cupcakes!

More often than not, it can be a daunting challenge to find a vegan cookbook with solid recipes that do not call for obscure, expensive ingredients. Though I love agave nectar and brown rice syrup as much as the next vegetarian, they are extremely pricey and often times, hard to find. (Although many supermarkets are now noticing the trend in wholesome eating and including a natural foods section).

However, after recently coming across vegan culinary genius Isa Chandra Moskowitz's cookbook, "Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World", I was astounded with the goldmine of relatively easy, creative recipes that use ingredients found in any home, vegan or not. From your basic Chocolate Cupcake to a very promising Mucho Margarita Cupcake, there is literally a tasty little treat for everyone.

The recipe below is for the Mocha Cupcake, which appealled to me due to my love of mocha lattes and chocolate covered espresso beans. These are topped with a decadent chocolate ganache, which reminds me of the chocolate drizzle my favorite barista pours over my latte!

Mocha Cupcakes
makes around 12 cupcakes

1/2 cup soymilk

1/2 cup cold coffee

1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

3/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon almond extract

2 tablespoon instant espresso powder

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a muffin tin with foil or paper cups.
Whisk soymilk, coffee, and vinegar in a large bowl. Let curdle. Add sugar, oil and extracts. Whisk until frothy.
In a separate bowl, sift flour, salt, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and espres powders together. Add to wet ingredients.
Beat until there are no large lumps.
Fill liners 3/4 of the way full. Bake 18-20 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Chocolate Ganache

3 tablespoons soymilk

2 1/2 tablespoons powdered sugar

3 chunks of unsweetened chocolate

Heat soymilk in the microwave about 20 seconds. Whisk in powdered sugar. Drop in chocolate. In 20 second intervals, heat and stir mixture until all the chocolate has melted and the consistency is smooth. It should be thick and very chocolatey, adjust ratios of ganache accordingly. Spread or drizzle on cooled cupcakes.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Peanut Butter Cup Cake

Peanut Butter Cups are by far the very best candy around. There is nothing that can top the smooth, melt-in-your mouth interior of the peanut butter when combined with the first solid, and then gooey ridges of the chocolate. In an effort to recreate the iconic candy in cake form, I experimented with making a peanut butter frosting. 

About 98% of the recipes I encounter for vegan frosting include ingredients such as non-hydrogenated vegan margarine, such as Earth Balance. While this may have the same consistency of butter, I think using butter-substitutes is cheating. My theory about vegan eating is eliminating the unnecessary chemicals and animal products from a diet. Who wants to eat something that is processed and definitely not found in nature? 

The cake itself is very vegan, very chocolate, and very tasty. I apologize for the lack of picture, but I smoothed the frosting on only the top of the cake when it was completely cooled, and sprinkled it with slivered almonds. It looked gorgeous if I don't say so myself!

Peanut Butter Cup Cake


1 cup cold water

1 1/2 cups flour

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 cocoa powder

1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/3 cup olive oil

1 tablespoon vinegar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk the dry ingredients except sugar together. Combine the wet ingredients including sugar in another bowl. Add both mixtures together and stir. 
Bake for around 30 minutes in a round cake pan. This time will be 15 minutes if you are making cupcakes. 


1 cup of smooth peanut butter

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

equal parts oil and water

Combine the peanut butter, sugar and vanilla extract together. Add equal parts oil and water in small increments to the mixture until the consistency is smooth but will hold. 

When the cake is completely cooled, spread the peanut butter frosting on only the top of the cake, sprinkle with slivered almonds. Crushed peanut butter cups would be delicious also, but keep in mind that they are not vegan. 

Friday, April 10, 2009

Abbe's Apple Crunch Delight

The following recipe is a creation from my fellow-dancer friend Abbe. 

It is no secret that the combination of nuts and apples is such a classic and time-tested duet of flavors. (Just think of peanut butter and apples). By adding a smidgen of cinnamon sugar and honey, there is a pleasant sweetness drawn out of the apples that makes the perfect healthy dessert. A bit of oats makes this reminiscent of an apple pie, without the guilt inducing butter. 

Abbe's Apple Crunch Delight 

2 cups of mixed nuts (pecans, cashews, almonds, pumpkin seeds)

1 cup oats

1/4 cup almond milk

4 squares of graham crackers

Extra oats

3 tablespoons honey

2 chopped Fuji apples

3 tablespoons cinnamon

3 tablespoons sugar

Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
Pulse topping ingredients in a blender or food processor to a mush-like texture. 
Take apple chunks and coat in the cinnamon and sugar.
Grease a 9 inch cake pan with cooking spray. Pour apple mixture into the pan. 
Pour the "mush" over the apples. Top with "Drizzle" ingredients. 
Place the cake pan in the oven and bake for around 40 minutes, or until the apples are tender and browned. 

Serve warm and a la mode. 

Chocolate Orange Scone Cookies

In an effort to prepare for the upcoming Easter weekend, I wanted to get a head start on my sweet tooth mania. After acquiring a delicious bag of Dove dark chocolate nuggets and a big bag of quick cooking oats,  I decided to do a little improvisation on a recipe from Vegan With a Vengeance. 

The result was a hybrid between a cookie and a scone, hence, the creation of the scone-cookie. The baked good is not as dense as the traditional scone, but definitely as flat as a cookie. I do enjoy the hard, crunchy coating because it easily allows the eater to pull off the top, much like a muffin cap, (which everyone knows is the best part). 

Though these are peculiar goodies, I think they are an eclectic addition to any brunch get together, and will have guests pondering with amazement how such a texture could have been achieved. 

Chocolate Orange Scone Cookies
makes around 15 

 2 cups all purpose flour

3/4 cups almond milk

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1/3 cup raw sugar

1/4 cup quick oats

1/4 teaspoons salt

3 tablespoons grated orange

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1/2 cup applesauce

2 tablespoons baking powder

1 cup chopped dark chocolate

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a cookie sheet. 
Add the almond milk and the lemon juice together. Let sit for 5 minutes. 
In large mixing bowl sift flour, sugar, baking powder, oats and salt. Add the milk-lemon mixture to the dry ingredients. Add orange zest, vanilla extract, oil and applesauce. Stir in dark chocolate. 
Place tablespoons of batter onto the cookie sheet about 2 inches apart. Sprinkle the tops with sugar. 
Bake around 20 minutes, until golden brown. Keep an eye on them so the bottoms do not burn!
Bake for around 20 minutes. 

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Mexican Wedding Cookies

It is rare that any type of butter is ever in my refrigerator, let alone a large block of it staring me in the face. Leftover from the Birthday Frittata ingredients, I wanted to use up the butter in a delicious, tried and true cookie recipe. 

After researching several recipes, I thought, who better to create a butter-based cookie than Food Network's one and only Paula Deen! I was partial to Mexican Wedding Cookies not only because of their melt-in-your mouth texture, but because they require very few ingredients. Her recipe calls for 1 cup of finely chopped pecans, but I omitted them so nothing would get in the way of them dissolving in my mouth. 

Don't you feel more Latin already? Ole'!

Mexican Wedding Cookies
yields 2 dozen cookies

1 cup butter

1/2 cup confectioners sugar plus more for rolling

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 3/4 cups flour

Preheat oven to 275 degrees. 
Cream the butter and the sugar. Add in the vanilla while stirring the mixture. Gradually add in the flour and stir until combined. The dough should be sticky, but mine was a little too dry at this point so I added a tiny splash of milk. 
Form 1 inch balls from the dough, and place on a greased cookie sheet. They hardly spread so they can be spaced relatively close together. 
Bake for around 40 minutes until golden. 
When they are cool enough to handle but still warm, roll in confectioners sugar to coat. 

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Bacon Cheddar Birthday Frittata

Although I advocate baking vegan,  sometimes a full on indulgence is a very good thing! My roommate is not very into sweets, so for his birthday my friend Abbe and I decided to make him a bacon cheddar frittata! Although this was my first time making both bacon and a frittata, it turned out to be quite a success! Both savory and fluffy, this egg-based dish will hopefully hit the spot whenever my roommate pines for something delicious. 

Happy frittata-ing!

Bacon Cheddar Frittata
serves many!

1 dozen eggs

1/2 cup whole milk

1/2 a red onion

4 baby yukon potatoes 

1 package of bacon

1/4 cup cooking oil

6 tablespoons butter

2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, plus more for sprinkling on top

1 1/2 tablespoon sea salt to taste

1 tablespoon pepper

Grease a casserole dish VERY well with cooking spray and butter. 

Heat the oil and 3 tablespoons butter on medium high heat in a large skillet. Place bacon strips in the oil and fry until golden brown and crispy on the edges. Remember to flip them during the cooking process so they are evenly browned. Remove strips with a spoon and let drain on paper towels. 

Crack all of the 12 eggs into a large bowl. Whisk in the milk and add the cheddar. Whisk all the ingredients together until well blended. Add salt and pepper to the mixture. 

Pour out some of the bacon oil, and add the remaining butter. Chop the onions and potatoes into bite-size pieces and add to the skillet. Saute for about 15 minutes, or until the potatoes have browned and crispy edges. 

Add the potato-onion mixture to the egg mixture. And then pour everything into the casserole dish. Place dish into a 350 degree oven. Bake for around 30 minutes, until the cheese is golden brown and the egg has set. 

Serve while still hot!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

New Baking Technique for Vegan Brownies!

I was extremely excited earlier this week when I discovered a new technique for baking vegan goodies on one of my favorite blogs, Cookie Madness. So intrigued was I with this new method that I immediately went down into my kitchen, took out my baking supplies, and tried it out, no matter that this was at 8 o'clock in the morning, and I was nearly late to my class.

While these bars are more cake-like than brownie-like, they come out rich in chocolate, and are relatively healthy due to the lack of eggs, milk or butter in them. In fact, baked in a round pan and slathered in frosting, the recipe could easily double as a birthday cake!

Without further ado...

Vegan Brownies (Adopted from Cookie Madness)
serves around 16

2 cups all purpose flour

1 cup water

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup white sugar

1 teaspoon salt

3/4 cups unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 cup vegetable or olive oil

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 cup nuts (optional)

1/2 cup vegan chocolate chips (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a brownie pan very well. 

(The new technique part comes next)

Place 1/2 cup of flour and the 1 cup of water in a saucepan over medium heat. Whisk until the mixture becomes thick and gluey. 

Stir together the sugar, salt, cocoa powder and baking powder. Add oil and vanilla and stir until well mixed. Add the gluey flour mixture and stir. Add the rest of the flour and nuts and chocolate chips if desired.
Pour the mix into the pan and bake for around 25 minutes. 
Let cool and cut into bars!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Apricot-Coconut Scones

Scones have never been a big deal in my family. We are definitely muffin people. However, after flipping through a relatively new vegan cookbook, searching for something new to bake, I came across a simple scone recipe- very few ingredients, and room for variation. Here was my chance to bake my very first scone!

Rather than the super-sweet, overtly fat-laden muffins we come across so often, a scone is more like a biscuit: crunchy exterior and soft and flaky inside. The recipe, adopted from Vegan With a Vengeance, was for a plain scone, so I jazzed it up with apricot pieces and coconut shavings, lending a tropical flavored result. In the future I would like to try these with coconut oil and macadamia nuts to up the Hawaiian factor. 

Apricot-Coconut Scone
makes around a dozen and a half

3 cups all purpose flour

2 tablespoons baking powder

1/4 cup sugar plus more for sprinkling on top

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1/2 cup soy creamer (or soy milk)

3/4 cup soy milk plus 2 teaspoons apple cider or fig vinegar

1/4 cup dried apricot pieces

1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes

Oven to 400 degrees. 
Combine dry ingredients. Add wet ingredients. Mix until just combined, dough should be clumpy, not sticky. Fold in coconut and apricots. 
Drop by 1/4 cup spoonfuls on greased cookie sheet. Sprinkle with sugar. Pat down the top into a desired shape. Bake 12-15 minutes, until browned on bottom and firm on top.