Monday, October 29, 2007

Veganlicious Hot Chocolate of Doom!

Okay, there's really nothing doomriffic about this hot chocolate unless you count that I was watching Hellraiser while I made it. Yay for AMC's Monster Fest! It is veganlicious, though. Yeah, I totally made that word up. I dare you to use it. I dare you! See, if you don't, that's where the doom part comes in.


So you're sitting at home watching a marathon of horror movies like all good boys and girls on Halloween week. Suddenly you think that you would really like to have some sort of dessert. Then you realize that it's 9pm and you don't really feel like baking something this late. And if you're like me, you don't have any sweets in the house unless you made it yourself. Tiptoe into the kitchen so the cenobites don't hear you and make yourself a cup of hot chocolate! This is such a great substitute for those times when you're wishing for something sweet, but either don't have anything or are trying to watch what you're eating.

You can add all kinds of crazy stuff to this, it's pretty much a bare bones hot chocolate recipe. It's more of a European style, though. Treat it like you would coffee and add sugar and soy cream to it to suit your own taste. Sometimes I'll splash in some Grand Marnier or Kahlua or something equally naughty.

Add a little dash of cayenne and cinnamon to make a really kick-ass Mexican hot chocolate. I do it that way more often than not. I don't tend to measure out the cayenne and cinnamon, but if I had to guess, I'd say that I add anywhere from 1/8 to 1/4 of a teaspoon of cinnamon and just a pinch of cayenne.

I have to add a disclaimer about the measurements as well. I usually measure how much soy milk to use by fill my mug about three-quarters full and then dumping that amount into the pot. I think it's usually around a cup, though.


Veganlicious Hot Chocolate of Doom!

1 Cup soy milk, rice milk, almond milk, etc.
1 Tablespoon cocoa powder
1 teaspoon sugar or agave nectar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

In a small pot add the soy milk and turn the heat to medium. Add the cocoa powder, sugar and vanilla. Whisk everything together until the cocoa has completely dissolved. This might take a minute or two. You shouldn't have any little pieces of cocoa floating around in your soy milk anymore. Keep whisking every minute or so for about 10, or until everything is almost boiling. If your hot chocolate starts to boil, turn the heat down, that's too hot!

Pour into your favorite mug and add soy cream or sugar if you want. I usually add soy cream to mine to make it a bit creamier. I don't like things that are to sweet, so I don't add any more sugar but you may want to.

See how easy it is to make your own hot chocolate? And it tastes even better than any mix you could buy as well.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Vampire Cupcakes of Doom!

My bite marks. Let me show you them.


These cupcakes rock so hard. Your socks will fly clean off. I swear, it happens. Then you're going to have to start wearing those crazy weird old man sock garters whenever you think about these cupcakes or you'll go around freaking people out with your sock-flying. Though, those weird sock garters might freak people out, too.

Roman told me that I have to give him credit for these cupcakes. He didn't make them, but he did point me to this page that I think he found on BoingBoing. So thanks, Roman for hooking me up with this awesome idea.

I wanted to make these so bad as soon as I saw them. As luck would have it, today was a friend's birthday so I make 18 of these babies and brought them in to work today. My coworkers ate every single one of them before lunchtime even came. The birthday boy ate 3 of them and quite a few other people had 2 each. Someone even told me that these are the best cupcakes he's ever had. Nice. Way to bring on the vegan cupcake love.

I was just gonna try and veganize the recipe on that site, but then I realized that I had Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World and Isa and Terry had already done it for me. :D So I made these using the Golden Vanilla Cupcake recipe and the Old-Fashioned Velvet Icing recipe. That frosting recipe is my absolute favorite. It's light and fluffy and not very sweet. I'm one of those people that usually wipes frosting off of cake/cupcakes because it's way too sweet for me. This stuff I pile high on top of cupcakes. It's a perfect balance of yumminess, plus it doesn't overpower the flavor of whatever cupcake you're putting it on top of. You can either use store-bought cherry pie filling or make your own cherry filling. I didn't have any cherries, so I did it the cheating way.


Golden Vanilla Cupcakes from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World

1 cup soymilk
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp cornstarch
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup canola oil
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 1/4 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350F. Line muffin pan with cupcake liners. Whisk the soy milk and vinegar in a measuring cup and set aside a few minutes to get good and curdled.

In a large bowl, use a hand-held mixer at medium speed to mix the soy milk mixture, oil, sugar and vanilla. Sift in the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda and salt and mix until no large lumps remain.

Fill cupcake liners two-thirds of the way and bake for 20 to 22 minutes until done. Transfer to a cooling rack and let cool completely.

If you're making your own cherry filling, go ahead and do that right now. (Just mix some chopped cherries with sugar, water and cornstarch. Cook it until it thickens, stirring constantly. You can adjust how much sugar you add according to how sweet your cherries are.) Once you've made your cherry mixture or opened the can of cherry pie filling, use a blender (yay immersion blenders!) or food processor, blend the cherry stuff until it's smooth with no chunks. Set this aside and get ready to start carving cupcakes!

Old-Fashioned Velvet Icing from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World

2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1/2 cup soy milk
1/4 cup nonhydrogenated shortening
1/4 cup margarine
2 tsp vanilla
1 cup superfine or castor sugar (I can't always find this, so I just use powdered sugar and it works fine)

In a small saucepan over medium heat, whisk together the flour and soy milk. Stir constantly until the mixture starts to thicken and has a pudding-like consistency, about 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool 2 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl and press plastic wrap onto the top of custard to prevent a skin from forming. Allow mixture to cool completely before next step. (This is very important, as warm pudding might melt the fats.)

Cream together the shortening, margarine, vanilla and sugar then beat in the cold custard. Beat with electric mixer for 4 to 6 minutes; frosting should become lighter in color and have a creamy texture, similar to very thick whipped cream.

To assemble:

Cut a little cone shaped hole out of a cupcake. You're going to put the cherry stuff in here.


Save the little cut out piece. Now, put a about a tablespoon or so of cherry filling inside your cupcake hole. Don't fill it too full, though.


Take the little piece of cupcake that you cut out of the center and cut a thin piece off of the top of it. This is the "lid" to the middle where the cherry stuff is hanging out.


Put the little hat on top of the cupcake to cover up the cherry middle section.


Awww... look how cute it is!


Oh noes! They multiplied!!! Get out while you still can!!! AAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!


Now put the frosting on top and get all excited to put the bite marks in. Be careful when you're putting the frosting on so that you don't accidentally dislodge the little cherry hat. The rule of thumb from the cake decorating classes I took years ago is this: always spread frosting on top of frosting. You never want to rub frosting on top of the cake. That's how you get crumbs in the frosting. Sound confusing? Basically it means that you want to put a huge dollop of frosting on top of your cupcake and spread it outwards from the top of the pile. You pretty much just want to be moving the frosting around softly.

To do that, take a toothpick and wiggle it around a little bit so the hole stays in. Then dip the toothpick in some of the leftover cherry mixture and sort of wipe it on the sides down from the bite marks. You want it to look like this when it's all done.


Friday, October 19, 2007

Do yourself a favor...

And go read this blog: Lifestyles of the Chic & Vegan: Starving Dog as Art - the Utter Outrage

Then go sign this petition. (It's in Spanish)

Don't put up with this bullshit. Every single one of us has the capacity to begin change on a large scale. Someone has to be the one to stand up and say "this isn't right." Be one of those people. Refuse to hide your head in the sand. Even something as small as signing a petition can help.

Vegan "Chicken" and Dumplings


I grew up in the South and I have this thing about Southern comfort food. I adapted this recipe from something I found somewhere on the internets years ago. I don't remember my mom cooking very much when I was a kid, but I do remember her making the most amazing chicken and dumplings. I did my best to recreate what I could remember that tasting like.

I always get excited when it starts to get cool enough to make stuff like this again. It just doesn't seem right to eat this in the summer and I'm always excited to have it for the first time again each year. This is good 'ol stick to your ribs soup. It's absolutely fantastic for one of those cold fall or winter nights when you want something warm and soupy, but also something hearty.

This post is extra exciting because I finally got a camera. Yes, folks, this is officially the very first digital camera that I have ever owned. I have been borrowing Roman's camera for the longest time. I took these right after getting home from the store, so they're not as good as they will be in the future. I had just stuck the camera on auto and shot. Now that I've read the manual on my awesome new Canon Powershot A720 IS, my picture are going to get better and better. :D Yay!

Also - the veggie broth I was using this time was store-bought and not home-made, that's why it's a little bit yellow. (Or should I say yeller since it's southern. ;) ). I think it was the Pacific Foods Organic Veggie Broth.

Vegan "Chicken" and Dumplings


1 Cup soy milk
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

2 Cups flour
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
Egg replacer to replace 2 eggs (I like to use Enger-G Egg Replacer for these)

Mix the soy milk and vinegar together and set aside for at least 5 minutes. Sift dry ingredients together in a large bowl. In a small bowl, lightly beat the egg replacer and soy milk mixture together. Pour the liquid in the dry ingredients and stir gently. Mix just until combined.

2 Tablespoons margarine (like Earth Balance)
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1/2 Cup carrot, chopped
1/2 Cup celery, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced (or if you're like me, you'll add 6)
2 bay leaves
1/4 Cup flour
6 Cups vegetable broth
1/4 cup soy cream (Silk makes a good one. You can use soy milk if you can't find this.)
1 package faux chicken pieces or 1 Cup seitan
Freshly ground black pepper

In a large soup pot, melt the margarine and olive oil over medium heat. Add carrot, celery, garlic, and bay leaves. Saute until the vegetables are soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in the tablespoon of flour. Continue to stir and cook for 2 minutes to coat the flour and remove the starchy taste. Slowly pour in the broth stirring as you add. Let everything simmer for about 15 minutes. Stir in the soy cream.


Chop the faux chicken pieces (or seitan) and add it to the broth. Bring the soup up to a simmer. Using 2 spoons, carefully drop heaping tablespoonfuls of the dumpling batter into the soup. Cook for about 10 - 15 minutes until the dumplings are firm and puffy. Grind some fresh pepper on top of each serving.


Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The Flu Stew

The instructions for making this soup are very simple. I think most people can do it with little or no problem. Just follow these simple steps:

1. Get the flu.
2. Go to work anyway, like an idiot.
3. Go home from work early because your fever is way too high to function.
4. Get home exhausted from braving public transit and sleep for a long time.
5. Wake up starving and delirious from your fever. At this point, it's best if your fever is well over 100F. Lower than that and you're just rubbing it in with your wellness.
6. Throw random things into a pot and call it soup.

Or if you're feeling better, you can always just use this recipe. It actually tastes pretty good considering I was making this by just putting whatever was easiest into a pot and boiling it. If I had made this and I wasn't sick, I would have probably started this out by sauteeing some onions in olive oil, adding some garlic, then some carrots, celery and mushrooms.


I really didn't have the energy for any of that, so I pretty much just heated up some broth and added stuff to it. I'm lucky that I had some fresh herbs in the fridge. I've also been really into freezing things lately, so it's awesome that I had some seitan in the freezer to add to this.

The Flu Stew

2 large potatoes (I used Yukon Gold), diced into bite-sized cubes
4 Cups vegetable broth
1 Cup seitan, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1-2 carrots, chopped (enough to make about a cup after chopping)
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped
1 teaspoon fresh sage, chopped

In a large pot, heat some water. Add the potatoes and boil for 15-20 minutes or until the potatoes are soft when you stick a fork in them. Drain the potatoes into a colander and give them a quick rinse to remove any residual starch.

In a large soup pot, add the broth, potatoes, seitan, garlic, carrots, thyme and sage. Over medium heat, simmer the soup for 20-30 minutes.

Eat and then go take a nap. If you live with someone else, make them do the dishes. Hell, make them make you some soup while you watch bad daytime television and fade in and out of sleep.


Sunday, October 14, 2007

Chocolate Mocha Cupcakes

Yay! Cupcakes! :D Not my recipe, but I did tweak it slightly. I gave these out to a ton of people. All who told me how bad ass they are. Of course! Chocolate and coffee all rolled up into a cute little cupcake. What isn't awesome about that?!


Chocolate Mocha Cupcakes (from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World)

1 Cup rice milk
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
3/4 Cup sugar
1/3 Cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon chocolate extract
2 Tablespoons instant coffee
1 Cup all-purpose flour (I used whole wheat pastry flour)
1/3 Cup cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 350F. Put the muffin cups in your muffin pan and set aside.

Whisk together the rice milk and apple cider vinegar in a large bowl and set aside for at least 5 minutes. Add the sugar, oil, vanilla, chocolate extract and instant coffee and beat until foamy. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add in two batches to the wet ingredients and beat until no large lumps remain.

Pour the batter into the liners, filling them three-quarters of the way full. Bake 18-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer to a cooling rack and let cool completely.

Mocha Ganache Topping

1/2 cup strong coffee 8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped (or one bag of chocolate chips) 2 Tablespoons maple syrup

Bring the coffee to a gentle boil in a small saucepan. Immediately remove from heat and add the chocolate and maple syrup. Use a rubber heatproof spatula to mix the chocolate until it's fully melted and smooth. Set aside at room temperature to cool. (Or if you're impatient like me, you can put it in the refrigerator for a few minutes, but not too long, you don't want it to harden, just thicken and cool.)

Spoon the ganache on top of the cupcakes and prepare to rock the socks off of everyone who is eating them.

A Vegan Canadian Thanksgiving

It's taken me forever to post this because I spent most of last week with the flu. Ugh. Back to my normal level of awesomeness, I now bring you Thanksgiving dinner!



It's my first year living in Canada and the holidays take a little bit of getting used to. It's a bit weird to me to be celebrating Thanksgiving in October. I can only imagine how odd it's going to be next month when I'm at work on American Thanksgiving in November. Apparently Canada had Thanksgiving first, or so my friend tells me Wikipedia told him. If it's on the internets, it must be true.

I had a great group of friends over for dinner. We ended up with 2 vegan, 2 vegetarians, 3 omnivores and 6 bottles of wine. Everyone ate until they were bursting, finishing every bit of almost everything. There's nothing like the feeling when people are getting second and third helpings of the food you've just spent the better part of a day making. After the food there was great fun with lots of wine and board games. Yay for holidays.

I forgot to take pictures of some of the things that I made, which makes me sad. It just means I'll have to make them again so I can post their greatness. The menu:

Jalapeno Vegan Pate with Whole Grain Crackers
Seitan and Herb Stuffed Mushrooms (from Vegan with a Vengeance)


Acorn Squash and Wild Rice Casserole
Cranberrry Sauce with Oranges and Grand Marnier
Maple-Mustard Glazed Potatoes and String Beans (from Vegan with a Vengeance)
Garlicky Kale with Tahini Dressing (from Vegan with a Vengeance)

Pumpkin Pie Wontons (these kick ass, but they really need some pictures to go along with the recipe, so I'll make sure to make these again so I can post it. Everyone was raving about these. They're so much fun to eat because you can pick them up and eat them with your hands.)

The greatness of the Acorn Squash and Wild Rice Casserole is how it can go from main course to side dish. Whenever I have to go to someone else's house for Thanksgiving or the winter holidays, I always insist on bringing something and I bring this and cranberry sauce. As long as you don't tell anyone that you put seitan or tofu in it, even your crazy redneck relatives will eat it. Then you can get a good giggle when you tell them later what was in it. The side dish for everyone else becomes a main course for you.

Acorn Squash and Wild Rice Casserole

3 Acorn squash
salt & pepper
ground nutmeg
4 Tbsp margarine
3 Cups cooked wild rice
1 3/4 Cup veg broth
3 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 large ribs celery, finely chopped
1 large carrot, peeled and finely chopped
1 Tbsp minced fresh sage
1 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves
1/2 Cup minced fresh parsley
1 Cup seitan or baked tofu, chopped
3/4 Cup chopped walnuts, toasted
3/4 Cup sweetened dried cranberries

Preheat the oven to 350F. Cut each squash in half across the middle. Scoop the seeds and strings out of each half of squash. You'll probably need to cut a little bit off of the top and bottom of each half so that it will sit upright when you put them on the baking sheet. Once you've got that all situated, place all 6 halves in a baking pan or on a rimmed cookie sheet. Sprinkle each half with a little salt, pepper and nutmeg. Dot each half with some margarine. Cover the pan with foil and bake the squash about 30 minutes. You can do this part a day ahead if you need to.


Go ahead and start cooking your rice while you're chopping the veggies and stuff. When I made my seitan this time, I added some fresh sage and oregano before I cooked it for some extra flavor. Chop the seitan about the size it is in this picture.


In a large pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Saute the onion, garlic, celery, and carrot for about 3 minutes. Cover the pan, adjust the heat to medium-low and cook the veggies for about another 5 minutes longer. Add the sage, thyme and parsley and saute for another minute or so.

In a large bowl, combine the cooked rice, sauteed veggies, seitan (or tofu), walnuts and cranberries. Peel the squash and cut it into large chunks. Gently it mix in with the rice mixture. Cover with foil. Bake at 350F until heated through, about 20-25 minutes.

If you're feeling fancy, you can stuff the squash halves with the rice mixture and serve one to each person. I do it like this sometimes and like a casserole other times depending on what kind of mood I'm in. If you're going to stuff the squash, mound the rice mixture into the squash halves, dividing it evenly. Cut about 2 tablespoons of butter into small pieces. Dot each stuffed squash with butter. Cover with foil and bake for 20-25 minutes.


Cranberry Sauce with Oranges and Grand Marnier

1 bag of cranberries
1 Cup of water
3/4 - 1 Cup of sugar
1/4 Cup Grand Marnier, optional
2 oranges or tangerines

Rinse the cranberries and throw out any bad ones. In a large soup pot, combine the cranberries, water, sugar and Grand Marnier. Most people use the 1 cup sugar/1 cup water/1 bag of cranberries recipe, but I don't like my cranberry sauce to be that sweet so I only use about 3/4 of a cup of sugar.


I'm a masochist, so I cut the segments out of the oranges and put it in the pot. If you don't want to do that, you can always substitute orange juice for some of the water. If you substitute the orange juice for water, you'll probably want to decrease the sugar a little bit so it's not too sweet.

Turn the burner on medium-high. Stir everything up until the sugar is dissolved. When the berries start popping, lower the heat to a simmer and cover the pot. Stirring often, cook for about 30 minutes.

If you don't like whole berry cranberry sauce, you can strain this through some cheesecloth and you'll get something like that jellied stuff from a can except not as crappy.