Soul Searching Twenty-Something Seeks Food Love: Settles For Food Like Most Days

Soul Searching Twenty-Something Seeks Food Love: Settles For Food Like Most Days

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

My Birthday Sign: Cancers Like to Cook

So I've disappeared again. But it was because I was busy getting older. My birthday week just passed me by, so the month of July will be dedicated to amazing birthday related food posts.
What constitutes a birthday related food post? Well, I baked four different cakes during my birthday week, for starters, and received a juicer and a pasta roller as gifts. Additionally, my sister gave me three new cookbooks that I will be delving into, along with an apron so sexy that I'm tempted to wear nothing else when I am in the kitchen. Watch out, Jamie Oliver, the real naked chef is on your tail!
I had the fortune of sharing my birthday week with my sister's engagement party, for which I was asked to prepare my damn good chocolate cupcakes. Now, I know I've been bragging about them for weeks, but I'm a little tired of them. So I modified them (I'll tell you how soon) and added a few other treats to my lovely dessert spread.
So keep your eyes open throughout the month of July.  Promised posts include Upgraded Damn Good Chocolate Cupcakes, Dark Chocolate Cake with Espresso Buttercream, Cinnamon Spice Cake with Orange Glaze, and Lemon Crepe Cake, for starters.
I haven't forgotten about my first love. 

Sunday, June 12, 2011

French Food for Vegans

First off, I must dispel a myth.

I have not died.  I have not fallen ill to the point of incapacitation.  And I have not seriously injured myself.

Truthfully, I haven't even been a lazy blogger.  I spent my one and only day off last week preparing so many delights for you to enjoy here at Vegan Food-Like that I ran out of time to type about them.  So this week, I owe you many pictures and stories about my adventures.

Let's start with the cooking adventure that was destined to flop.  Parisienne Gnocchi.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Donuts are the new Cup-fake ;)

Where I came from, donuts did not come from the oven.  They came from the Krispy Kreme store or the Dunkin' Donuts down the road.  The were little fried fat balls full of sugar and unidentifiable, chemical shelf stabilizers.

Now that I have a little donut pan and a vegan lifestyle, my donuts come from the oven.  And, man, can they be tastier than I ever imagined!

What made these donuts particularly delicious was preparing them with my husband.  The couple that cooks together. . .

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Blue Pancakes for a Little Girl Blue

The last week here in the Philly suburbs have been a little on the grey side.  Rain has been our constant companion this past week and the forecast is hedging on rain all week.  Everyone around is cranky, tired, and wet. . .

Weeks like this call for comfort foods and pajamas.  And nothing makes me want to get out of bed on drizzling grey mornings like a big ol' stack o' pancakes.  So I brought out the griddle and started flapjacking away the other day.  And I came up with some pretty impressive results!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Fruit Sushi

I loved sushi.  It is one thing that I do miss eating. . . sure I can go and still enjoy my veggie rolls, but I was always a sucker for a good rainbow roll and some sashimi.  One of my last meals before the vegan revolution took over was at D.C. top rated sushi restaurant, Sushi Taro.  And it was memorable!

Enter Fruit Sushi.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Cornbread: Can't Beat the Classics

I'm in the middle of reading The Flavor Bible among a few other food-obsessed books.  In it is a great quote from Emily Luchetti, the pastry chef at Farallon (in SF) that explains the problem with the first cornbread recipe I tried the other day.  She says, "Too many chefs start adding things that in the end all taste muddled, because nothing can stand out on its own."

When I tried making the Quinoa Blue Cornbread in Colleen Patrick-Goudreau's Color Me Vegan, I added just about everything but the kitchen sink.  I couldn't find blue cornmeal at my local grocery store, so I substituted yellow cornmeal, which the recipe itself recommended.  It also suggested that you try buckwheat flour instead of all-purpose, adding corn, or adding blueberries.  I decided to try all of the above.  If one is good, all three would be great, right?

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Veganish and Spaghetti-nos: If it Makes You Feel Gross, Stop Eating It!

I've been a lazy blogger. . . mostly because I've been an unbearably busy employee.  This past week, I worked myself into exhaustion, ate poorly (which didn't help my exhaustion), and got some bad news (again, exhausting).

So rather than being too exhausted to think about food-like, I've been looking forward a day off on Thursday when I can slave away in MY kitchen for MY belly and then share it with you!  And I've got plans to make a lovely dinner for my husband and at least one yummy treat to get me through the week.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Classic Coffee Cake

I guess I established myself as a lover of those sugary, fatty treats at Starbucks a few posts ago, but truly, life without coffee cake stinks.  I should say, life without being able to eat any kind of coffee cake out of the Starbucks pastry case stinks.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Falafel- A Vegan Staple

My husband is not vegan.  I am.  This works out just fine, because he is an "at-home" vegan, meaning that when he is home, he eats the foods that I eat, because we currently purchase almost exclusively vegan foods for our home.  I say "almost," because he did bring home yogurt covered raisins on our last trip, but he ate most the bag on the car ride home.  Typical.

But even before I had switched over to a vegetarian diet, he was eating a vegan lunch almost daily without meaning to.  When he worked in Philadelphia, he was addicted to pita's brimming with falafel and hummus at Mama's and would eat lunch there almost every day.  When I would ride into the city to see the art museum while he was at work, we would go here every time.

The other day, Mike said to me, "it's too bad you are working tonight, or we could ride into the city and have falafel."  Yes, he like the falafel that much.  So when I agreed to make a batch before going to work (having never tried before), I was in for a pretty big challenge.  I was going to be compared to the world's best falafel.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Fresh Spices Make All the Difference

I know. . .

We've all heard that using fresh herbs and grinding your own spices makes a huge difference in cooking.  We can add that to the list of advice that tells you organic makes a difference or fresh is always better than frozen or canned.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

On to the Easter Entree

So while families everywhere were enjoying their lambs and hams in celebration of eternal life (because somehow we, as a culture, have equated slaughter with celebrations of life), I was at home debating what to make for dinner.

I'm a big fan of pasta, which has served me well in my new ethical walk of life, but I've grown tired of reading the sides of pasta boxes and trying to avoid eggs.  And, if we're being honest, one might be sustained by boxed pasta and red sauce, but one will never be nourished (physically or emotionally).

Enter Sweet Potato-Parsnip Ravioli with Shiitake Cream sauce!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Happy Ethical Easter!

I hope everyone enjoyed their holiday celebrations (or lack thereof).  I wound up on the latter end, as Michael and I are far from religious (at least not organized) and he spent most of the day studying for his final exams.

So I spent most of the day home alone in my kitchen.  Please, send me no pity, for I am much happier on these alone in my kitchen days than I generally am at large gatherings.  And, besides, if I did not have the day alone in my kitchen, I wouldn't have such a delicious offering to share with you!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Mocha Ice Cream Tart

No, really, I believe the phrase "addict" has been applied to me in conversations about ice cream.
Last summer, I discovered a little ice cream shop with amazing peanut butter cup sundaes the size of my head.  Literally, huge scoops of ice cream smothered in peanut butter and chocolate sauce and crushed peanut butter cups, topped with a big ol' dollop of whipped cream.  Addictive.  Orgasmic.
I love ice cream so much that one of the most used gifts from my bridal shower was the ice cream maker attachment to my KitchenAid mixer.  I made all sorts of ice creams with that thing.

I have to admit, I was a little bit worried about getting through the summer without my ice cream fixes.  I like the mini ice cream sandwiches from So Delicious, but they definitely aren't a head-sized sundae of oozing goodness.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Making Insta-Food Hospitable

What a busy vegan I have been!  Not a day off from work in two weeks!

Of course, this has killed a little bit of the drive to tackle four hour baking adventures or start every meal from scratch endeavors, but have faith, Food-Romance, like real romance, wanes and grows.  It's a phase.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Burgers are a Special Gift

Who doesn't like a burger?

It is estimated that the average American eats anywhere from 1-3 burgers a week.  So, even conservatively, Americans are eating over fifty burgers a year.  The burgers we're talking about here are the meaty, greasy, fatty burgers, whether grilled with care at the neighborhood barbeque or fast food scarfed down in from the driver's seat. 

Burgers are an food archetype for Americans.  With a big ol' side of french fries and a slice of goopy apple pie, you have a cholesterol- and saturated fat-laden image of why the American Heart Association anticipates that by 2020, three quarters of the world's deaths will result from chronic disease, with coronary heart disease and cardiovascular disease leading the way to hell (or heaven, if you can look this results in the eye and be an optimist).

And to make matters worse, the carbon footprint of our burger addiction is equally disturbing.  In the analysis of The Cheeseburger Footprint, Swiss research on the energy required to produce a hamburger is converted to the annual carbon footprint of a Hummer.  If Americans are eating an average of 3 hamburgers a week, we're consuming energy at a rate that would equal double the number of SUVs on the road IF every SUV on the road were the excessive gas-guzzling nightmare of a Hummer.

Still hungry for burgers?

I am.  Because, my tasty Hazelnut Mushroom burgers, don't require meat (a great improvement for carbon footprint).  I could eat three of these every week with out feeling guilty or gross!  And the best part:  my whole kitchen and house smell a-f-ing-mazing.  From the toasting of hazelnuts, the sauting of mushrooms, to the baking of the patties (with yummy pressed garlic and chives in them), my tummy has been rumbling away every time I inhale!

The orivinal recipe comes from Vegan Diner: Classic Comfort Food for the Body & Soul.  It's a fun little cookbook that I picked up, mostly because I crave me some macaroni and cheese once in a while.  (But I get by on macaroni and cheeze).  I'm most excited about the recipes for soy ice creams and shakes (since I have and love my ice cream maker), but decided to give homemade "veggie" burgers a try. 

I'm not going to act like I don't throw frozen veggie burgers from the grocery store in the toaster oven and eat them (on a moderately regular basis).  I do.  And, to be honest, between the packaging and the mass farmed ingredients, I'm sure these aren't the world's greenest burgers.  In their defence, I guarantee you that the veggies involved do not fart, so all the cow methane is at least out of the picture (saving approximately .73 Hummers a year. . .j/k).

But I found that the variety that I can enjoy in textures and flavors of homemade burgers, whether soft, chewy, bean-y, or veggie-y, is enjoyable in and of itself.

Anyone who knows me knows that i have a mushroom problem.  I'm a big sucker.  If a menu has anything that is "in a mushroom sauce" or "over mushrooms," I can't  help but order it.  I'm also the kind of person who compulsively eats nuts until the bowl is empty.  I just love them.  I love walnuts, cashews, pecans, peanuts, hazelnuts, you-name-it-nuts, I'll dig in.  So when I found mushroom hazelnut burgers, I knew where to begin.

I did a few things differently that the recipe called for.  I used wheat berries instead of flour for filler, to add some chewy to the burger.  I used shitake and baby bellas instead of crimini (because they were here in my house.  I didn't have an onion on hand, but I had fresh chives just begging to be chopped up and tossed into something.  Cooking isn't about fitting the mold of a recipe, but being able to flow freely in your kitchen and enjoying the outcome.

The Ingredients:

1 c TVP, rehydrated
8 oz mushrooms, sauted (they wanted crimini, but like I said, shitake and baby bella are what you see here)
1/2 c onion, sauted (replaced with a handful of diced chives)
3 cloves of garlic, pressed and sauted (YUM!!!!)
1 c. cooked brown rice (I used wild and brown rices, mixed)
3/4 coarsely chopped hazelnuts, skinned and toasted
1/4 c. vital wheat gluten
1/4 c. wheat flour (I replaced it with tasty wheat berries)
salt & pepper to taste

Start by chopping the mushrooms, garlic, and onion/chives in a food processor using the pulse function (don't make them mushy, make them chopped!). 
Add in the rice and tvp.  Chop (not mush) a bit more!
Finally throw in those hazelnuts and give everything one more good chop (still no mush). . .
Mix the chopped mixture into the flour & grain mixture.

Then, SMUSH UP SOME BURGERS!  Take off your jewelry and get your hands into your food.  Cooking is a visceral experience and the more connected with your food that you are, the more authentic (think Heidegger) your experience can be!
Bake your patties for 15 minutes.  Flip them.  Bake them again for 10 minutes.  Don't bake them too long, or you will end up with dried out crunchy burgers.  I made that mistake once and will never make it again.  Plate them up and enjoy a beautiful burger, that is not only nourishing with great whole grains and protein, but also tastes great (earthy and roasty with garlic and chive accents). 
I enjoyed mine on fresh ciabatta with cherry tomatoes, spring greens, and a smear of Vegenaise.  When homemade burgers are so tasty and filled with such simple ingredients, why bother with Boca?

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Vegan Brunch: Take 2 or How I became Food-Addicted. . .

What makes for a better brunch than stacks of dense, rich stuffed french toast, oozing cream cheese, apples, walnuts, and REAL maple syrup, lightly dusted with cinnamon and powdered sugar???

Stacks of dense, rich stuffed french toast, oozing cream cheese, apples, walnuts, and REAL maple syrup, lightly dusted with cinnamon and powdered sugar that just happen to be vegan!

And if there is something that screams "HEAVENLY BRUNCH" more than this, I'm not sure that I've discovered it yet.

As a child, I was used to french toast meaning white bread, dipped in eggs and vanilla, fried and doused in Mrs. Butterworth.  I'm sure that while my eight year old self sat pouring high fructose corn syrup over my WonderBread and talking to the syrup bottle, I didn't believe that life got any better than this.

But it did!

I would venture to say that I did not go into the kitchen until I was in college, or, if I went into the kitchen before than, it was to pour a bowl of cereal or maybe toast a Pop-tart.  I was not food-obsessed from birth.  I was raised in an average suburb of a very small city, where throwing stuff in a pot and calling it casserole was dinner three nights a week (and let me say, to this day, sometimes dinner consists of Hodge-Podge in a Pot meals).

When I went away to school, I desparately needed a job my sophomore year of college.  My experience around food consisted of working over the summer in a soft serve ice cream shop for one year and waiting tables at a Friendly's (and if anything is the opposite of gourmet. . .). . .

I applied to be a bar cook at the red-neck-iest of dive bars.  I got the job and learned how to operate a fryer very quickly.  But I also was responsible for cooking the weekend specials, which included things like crab cakes (from scratch) and prime rib.  I would spend slower nights peeling potatoes for mashed potatoes and preparing pizza dough.  I learned alot of kitchen basics in the little bar, from food prep safety to how to work a meat grinder to mixing up a lovely barbeque sauce.

My aunt encouraged me to apply to wait tables at a lovely little BYOB in Chambersburg for a little bit of extra money.  I found out in the interview that there was a little barrier.  The catch was, no one was allowed to work the dining room until they had become familiar with the kitchen and menu, by working as a prep cook in the kitchen on Sunday.  My meager bar experience, although quickly developing my cooking skills, was not quite on par with the menu challenges and pace of a real restaurant kitchen. 

The chef/proprieter Deb had faith in me, for some reason, and I was there, the next Sunday, making tray after tray of stuffed french toast, grilling huge salmon filets, and whipping up hollandaise for eggs benedict, en masse.  I learned to make crepes, perfect lemon pancakes with fresh fruit, and whip up tasty omelettes.  Before too long, I had sharpened my teeth on the basics of cooking and had earned a spot working the front of house, where I really came into my stride.  It was the mentorship of Chef Deb, the faith that she had in me, and the patience that she provided for my learning curve that helped to expose me to the love of food that was innate in me. 

Recently, the restaurant has closed down.  When I found out, I cried.  It was a pivotal place for me.  And to think no one would be eating Deb's stuffed french toast on Sunday mornings--it was a tragedy!

For some reason, I have had a hankering for french toast lately.  Fortunately, a big excuse to make it has come up.  My "day" job consists of managing a Starbucks (come visit me in West Chester, PA), where I am a district coffee specialist, with a real passion for pairing food and coffee together to create lovely taste combinations.  I was invited to provide a coffee tasting for several of the upper management for our division (which covers the whole northeastern quadrant of our country) this morning. 

My parameters:  use Komodo Dragon, and earthy, herbaly, spicy, intense blend with complex and subtle flavors and a hint of acidity.  What does it say on the bag?  Enjoy with cinnamon dusted french toast!

FINALLY, I thought!  Deb, I will ressurrect the flavors of your stuffed french toast (to the best of my memory) in a vegan treat that is simple to make and impressive to even the meatiest of eaters.

Feeling adventurous?  Make your own loaf of bread!  I love baking bread, and guarantee that sooner or later, you will have some great breads on this site to try.  Unfortunately, It was nine o'clock last night when I got started and I needed to be in professional dress at the regional office at 7 o'clock this morning--not a recipe for baking homemade bread.

Always use the best ingredients that you can, but know when and how you can substitute.  This recipe is trained-monkey-easy as I'm about to present it to you, but if time and resources aren't an issue for you, step it up a notch ;)  I'm throwing in parenthesis some upgrades for you to try!

When I bake, I measure.  The truth is, when i cook, I tend to chuck things in a pot and see how it goes.  Forgive my flubby measurements.

You'll need:
1 Stick of Earth Balance
1/2 c (ish) of Soy Milk
(Vanilla or regular will work)
1 Tbsp (ish) of GOOD QUALITY Vanilla Extract
Generous sprinklings of Cinnamon
Blops of Nutmeg and Cloves
Some crushed Walnuts
(for a real treat, melt a little Earth Balance, whisk in some flavorful dark rum, toss walnuts in the "buttah" mixture, then toss them in a brown sugar and cinnamon mixture & toast--YUM!!!)
An Apple, diced (hours to prep?  try a vanilla poached pear instead:  Peel & Half an organic pear, sprinkle it with cinnamon, place it in a saucepan with  1/2 cup apple juice & 2 tsp Vanilla extract.  Simmer it for 20-25 minutes until tender--what an upgrade!)
1/2 c (ish) confectioner's sugar
1 small tub of Vegan Cream Cheese
(I like Tofutti best)
A loaf of long skinny bread (got time, make your own!)
REAL maple syrup
1. Slice your bread into approx. 1 inch pieces, with a deep cut through the middle (almost sliced entirely in half, but no quite, almost like a little tiny slider bun)
2. Whisk the confectioner's sugar into the cream cheese.  Fold in apple bits and walnuts, leaving behind enough nuts for a lovely garnish.
3.  Melt down your Earth Balance and whisk in soy milk and vanilla extract.  Pour in a bit of cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg.  Place mixture in a shallow bowl.
4. Mist (lightly) a non-stick skillet with a cooking oil and heat it on medium heat.
5. Stuff each bread bit with a spoonful of the cream cheese mixture, dip both sides in the "buttah" mixture, and place it in the skillet until the first side in a nice medium brown.  Flip it and brown the other side.
6. Present each piece (or two) on a plate with a fan of thin apple (or pear) slices, sprinkle with confectioner's sugar and a light drizzle of REAL maple syrup.  Garnish with a few walnuts. 
7. ENJOY!!!!!! 


Oh, and my coffee presentation today. . . it was a big hit!  One of the Regional Vice Presidents actually went for seconds of my french toast.  And the cincher. . . I NEVER once mentioned that it was VEGAN. . . None of them knew any better that they had just had a tasty, ETHICAL breakfast. 

Let's add one point to the Guerilla Veganist!

If you are lucky, you have a great Indonesian coffee and a drizzly morning to pair perfectly with your french toast.  I can't wait to make the proper homemade bread, poached pears, and candied walnuts version of this recipe on my next lazy day off.  The cheater's version was so good, I am sure the "proper" verson of stuffed french toast a la chef Deb will be an astronomical improvement.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Lazy Saturday Brunch


This Saturday is particularly special to me, because I don't have to be at work at six o'clock in the morning (which is the unfortunate norm).  So what does a perky little puppy like me do on a Saturday morning?

Well, I start off by ignoring my alarm clock and dozing for an extra half an hour.  And then, I realize that I'm super hungry.  I'm normally super hungry, this is my usual state of mind.  Next, I realize that I have time for a nice mellow breakfast/brunch, rather than scarfing down some cheerios, then eating a banana in the car, if I'm lucky.

And, lastly, I realize that I still have two little yams (sweet potatoes) left in my pantry from our last delivery from suburban organics.  They are nutritionally dense little nuggets, that most of us would recognize from our grandmother's  marshmallow and cranberry-laden Thanksgiving sides.  If you are lucky, you have a few great pubs or burger joints that will let you upgrade to sweet potato fries (also tasty, and potentially slightly more nutritious than their white potato equivalent).

But you are luckiest if you are enjoying sweet potatoes in a delightful hash like I was this morning.  It is just about the easiest and tastiest warm breakfast you can prepare for yourself.  And what a nutritional boost it gives you!  Check out the stats from World's Healthiest Foods.
If you are using organically grown sweet potatoes, PLEASE leave the skin on when you make this recipe!  Just give them a quick little scrub.  It will add even more goodies to your breakfast, as well as a delightful texture and flavor.  However, if your potatoes are not organic, I recommend peeling and washing them.  No amount of creepy wax or pesticide residue is worth a few exta nutrients.  And that is one more excuse to buy organic!

So you start off with beautiful, (hopefully) organic yam/sweetpotatoes and you chop them up.  My husband prefers little round disks whie I prefer little cubes.  I think the cubes stay crunchier, he says the disks cook faster.  Turn them into little shoestring fries, if you prefer. . . Size, shape, they don't matter.  At least not in the world of Potato Hash.  Other instances, it might matter.

All you need is a medium sized skillet and a touch of oil (you can get away with canola or olive oil, but I say, go for a nice tasty, high-quality EVOO). Throw in your little potato bits and fri them up on med-high heat until they are your desired texture.  I like them a bit on the crunchy side, so I tend to cook them up for just about 7-8 minutes, using the skillet-toss technique of rotating. 

Not feeling like throwing food in the air and hoping it lands back in your well-placed skillet?  Then just push them around with a wooden spoon.  But sooner or later, the excitement and allure of throwing your food will call you and you should answer.  Worst case scenario: a few tasty bits will wind up on the floor.  Sweep them up and move on.

Sweet Potatoes have a lovely flavor all on their own, but feel free to season as you like.  I use just a light sprinkle of coarse ground sea salt and a generous pinch of cumin.  I think cumin is just about the tastiest thing you can put on your potatoes.  Feeling a little autumny?  Tost a sprinkle of cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves into the mix.  Dying for a sweet treat?  Try tossing your hash in a little bit (now, don't go overboard) of brown sugar or maple syrup (REAL maple syrup, please leave the fake butter-flavored, food-colored, sugar goop to the masses). 

The best part of this Breakfast Hash (other than its ease) is it's flexibility.  You can spice it as you like, or eat it as is.  You can make your potatoes into any shape that you like.  You can eat it for breakfast, but we enjoy it for dinner at least once a week, too. 

Sometimes, we will chop up other veggies (peppers, mushrooms, onions, and carrots have been all popular choices) and add some ground not-meat to it.  (We like SmartGround, but I've had it with Boca crumbles, too)  Hell, you can toss in ground beef, turkey, or lamb, as well, if those things fly in your house.  Add a bit of brown rice or other grain to add some bulk to the dish and create a great one pot wonder for a very filling meal.  This morning, I just browned a pair of Morningstar Veggie Sausages to add a bit of extra protein to my brunch.  I paired it with a glass of orange juice (which I FOOD-LOVE) mixed 1:1 with mandarin seltzer (I love the bubbles, but don't need champagne at 10:30 in the morning) for a great breakfast spritzer.
So in ten minutes time, this morning I was able to enjoy an awesome breakfast with fresh organic produce and yummy little sausages, absolutely NO meat, eggs, or dairy, and very little fat.  Don't feel tempted to just cut out the oil though, because a little bit of fat does a lot.  Without it, your body will be unable to fully process all the beautiful nutrients that you are feeding it.  There is a reason why we add a light touch of vinaigrette to our lovely salads (although there is a such thing as TOO much of a good thing.)

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Best Damn Chocolate Cupcakes Ever!

I had these two friends who would bake really creative cupcakes based on the signs of the zodiac.  They use foods that are reminiscent of zodiac archetypes or representative of particular signs as inspiration for their concoctions. 

I am a cancer (woot for June/July babies) which theoretically means that I am a nurturer, homebody, and damn good cook.  I was honestly a bit hurt when they didn't want me to help them design their cupcakes.  If anyone of the three of us knew food or baking, it was me.  Not that I'm an expert. . . just that I'm more of an expert.  But mostly, I felt excluded. 

The cancer cupcake was a peanut butter and bananas combination.  Not what I would have chosen to represent me, but I wasn't asked.  Ultimately, it's better that way, because none of the cupcakes that my friends have made have been vegan.

A Valentine's day party was upon them and the baking began.  I (perhaps, naively) suggested that they make a vegan cupcake so I could eat at the party.  I was told that there would be hummus, veggies, and chips; There would be enough vegan food available to me and they had enough baking to do already.

A quick aside:  These were two friends who would come to my house and enjoy vegan chik parm and tofu quiche when I was experimenting in the kitchen.  The friends who would tell me that my chik parm was better than the real thing.  Or that they never really liked quiche, but damn was that tasty.  And when I made a whole-grain crusted fruit pizza.  They were all pigging out.  But, for some reason, the suggestion of making one vegan recipe in their own home was too extreme.

I decided that day that I was going to make a vegan cupcake for my friend's birthday, which was coming up.  I was going to make a DAMN good cupcake at that.  And guess what. . .

I did.  Of course ;)

Since my vegan adventure, I'll become a frequent visitor of Oh She Glows and have given many of the recipes a try in the past few months.  The next few posts will probably all come from my adventure's with the recipes from this site.  I was lucky, because Angela who writes Oh She Glows, just happened to have the best chocolate cake recipe.  And it just happened to be eggless.  And it just so happens that soy milk is a staple in my house.  So is Earth Balance.  I didn't even need to go shopping, really.

I'm going to link directly to her page, here, because she has absolutely lovely presentation and photos, but if you're happy with my sad little kitchen and my sad little pictures, why leave Food-Like?  The recipe goes:


Yield: 12 cupcakes

Cupcake Ingredients:
  • 1 cup non-dairy milk (I used Vanilla Almond milk)
  • 1 cup sugar (I used natural cane sugar)
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil (or other oil)
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp pure almond extract (optional, but awesome)
  • 1.5 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder, sifted (I used Dutch-process)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp kosher salt, to taste
1. Preheat oven to 350F and line a cupcake pan with cupcake liners.
**quick note:  My thermometer makes a world of difference.  My oven runs hot, so without it, I would be making burnt, dry cupcakes.  I highly recommend everyone use a thermometer for their baking.**
With an electric mixer, beat together the following ingredients in a large bowl (non-dairy milk, oil, sugar, apple cider vinegar, vanilla, almond extract). Beat on medium speed for a minute or two.
2. Now sift in the dry ingredients (flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt). Mix well, until the clumps are gone.
3. Spoon the batter into prepared cupcake pan, about two thirds full for each. Bake for about 22 minutes at 350F, or until the cupcake slowly springs back when pressed with a finger. Allow to completely cool before frosting.

And the frosting. . . AMAZING! 


Yield: ~2 cups
  • 1/2 cup Earth Balance buttery stick or equivalent, room temperature
  • 3 cups icing sugar, sifted (I used organic)
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp pure almond extract (may sub. other extracts)
  • 1.5-2 tbsp non-dairy milk, to achieve your desired consistency

1. In a mixing bowl, beat 1/2 cup of Earth Balance (or equivalent) with an electric mixer. Add in the milk, extract, and salt. Mix. Now gradually add in the sifted icing sugar, starting with 1 cup and mixing slowly until fully combined. I like to use my stand mixer when making frosting because I leave it mixing for about 5-10 minutes until nice and fluffy. Alternatively you can beat the frosting with a handheld mixer, for at least 4-5 minutes. Reserve about 1/2 cup of the frosting if you want to make the raspberry glaze (as shown).

To make the raspberry glaze, take the remaining frosting, and mash a handful of organic raspberries in a strainer over top, allowing the juice to strain through but holding back the seedy bits.  This wasn't specified on Oh She Glows and when I let the seedy bits in, it resulted in a massive backlog in my little round pastry tip.  THAT resulted in a crazy raspberry frosting explosion ALL OVER my kitchen table.  SO, my advice to you is STRAIN, STRAIN, STRAIN.

My other advice to you:  Try strawberries.  Try mint extract.  Try cocoa powder.  Try peanut butter.  Try Almond Butter.  Try Coffee. 

But, ultimately, TRY.  This is a definite MUST TRY AT HOME!

And, next time I'm feeling left out of the cupcake love, I'm baking these babies, bringing them places, and calling them the "June-baby" cupcake. . . because if a good home cook is represented by anything, it ought to be a DAMN GOOD chocolate cake   Even, a good vegan home cook.  Right?

Take one beautiful chocolate cupcake, pipe on buttercream, then drizzle with raspberry infused buttercream.  Top it with a fresh organic raspberry and bite into a little piece of heaven!

Maybe I'm not the world's best frosting piper (hey, it was my third time using a frosting tip, ever) and I'm definitely not the world's best photographer (props go to Ivy Darling, because she IS), but these were amazing cupcakes.

One step in the right direction.  Proving that VEGAN is TASTY and I don't have to actually give up anything (although these do have a side effect of sugar withdrawal. . . )

I want pictures.  I want feedback.  Share the Food-Love. if you make these.  Eating alone is like drinking alone.  It's lonely.  And I've been doing alot of it lately.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Why Vegan?

Food-Like has evolved.  What had once began as a blog about preparing lamb sous vide and duck confit is now a blog full of vegetables and grains.  We've left the hedonist lifestyle of the rabid meat-eaters. . .   In fact, Food-Like has evolved to appreciate Food-Ethics, too.

Before I start all of the crazy recipe sharing,  I think it is probably more important to take a moment to explain.

I was meant to go to Italy for my honeymoon over the New Year transition.  It was my complete intention to surround myself in the aesthetic, drinking wine, eating piles of food, and savoring really old architecture and art.  Mother nature preferred to snow us in, close all the airports on the east coast, and put a damper on our plans.

So my husband and I hopped in a car and drove down to Washington, D.C, so that we could, at a minimum, stay in a hotel, eat like kings, and do SOMETHING out of the ordinary.  While we did see museum after museum, we focused on eating as much as possible in the best possible restaurants that we could get into at the last minute.  And it worked.

We enjoyed a sushi tasting menu with the freshest, most interesting selections I have ever had at Sushi Taro.  We chomped down on numerous cheese boards, the most enjoyable at Poste Modern Brasserie.  We felt at home in a little Majolica-like restaurant called Courdoroy, digging in on an amazing lamb sausage among many other things.  I enjoyed several beet salads (which top my list of food-loves of late), the best of which was at J & G Steakhouse.  And on our last night, we had awesome food at The Source (we even got an extra treat because of a kitchen mistake--love mistakes in our favor!)  I ate alone with my Kindle on New Year's Eve at Vidalia, while Mike was back at the hotel losing his tummy contents.

Weirdly, all of the food (although amazing) made me feel like a gross lump of lard.  It was about this same time that I read an interesting article on the health benefits of reducing meat consumption.  I decided, New Year and all, that the time was ripe for a bit of change. 

I would not reduce my meat consumption. 

I would remove it.

Let's face it. 

I was a vegetarian for a few years in high school.  But I wasn't.  I was a pescatarian.  I ate fish to appease my parents, who cooked for and fed me regularly.  Then, I quit eventually.

I was a real vegetarian for a few years in college.  But I was a full-time student and worked three jobs just to pay my rent and basic needs, which did not include diverse or particularly healthy foods.  Then I got really tired, lost all of my energy, and wound up in the hospital with a particularly severe case of mono.  So, on doctor's orders, I quit.

So maybe that's why I am so non-commital about BEING A VEGAN.  Truth be told, I really like cheese, and will cheat twice a month or so.  And once, these past few months, I got so fried out with my work and life that I proceeded to the nearest burger joint and ate a huge bacon cheeseburger.  Did I feel guilty?  Only a tad.  Did I feel like a big, greasy, gas bubble?  You bet your big, stinky ass, I did.

I am not going to preach.  I am not going to convert.  I'm just going to cook.  I'm still going to dig in on food wherever I can get it.  And I can be pleased with the fact that I'm doing an overall great thing for my body and my world, while not really missing out on much at all.

The only thing I ever miss is bacon.  Nothing smells like bacon.  But, hey, it's lent, so people all around me are giving up things they love.  It seems less weird now.

Tonight, Mike and I went out to a dinner gathering with friends.  They roasted a turkey, made instant mashed potatoes, velveeta shells, and betty crocker boxed cake.  It was actually an impressive spread. 

I packed a vegan alfredo with fresh spring vegetables and Quorn "chik" cutlets.  I had the pleasure of Mike (who still eats meat sometimes, allthough not at home) telling me that my dinner was far superior.  It was also made entirely from scratch, from identifiable ingredients without funny chemicals. 

And, ultimately, what is not to FOOD-LOVE about that.

Stay tuned and come back, because tomorrow I am sharing photos and recipes of my AWESOME vegan cupcakes (that I have promised to share for weeks).