Posts Tagged cupcakes

VeganMoFo: Food Fit for the Playoffs

Growing up, I wasn’t a fan of any NFL team.  The closest teams (the Bucs and Jags) were an hour and a half away each, and we were just much more into college football.  (Go Gators!)  That all changed when I moved to the San Francisco Bay Area with Dave and adopted his team, the Forty Niners.  Now I consider myself a diehard fan!

The Niners had a great run last year that ended with two playoff games and a Super Bowl berth.  We celebrated properly for each game, having friends over and making lots of food.

For the first playoff game against the Packers, we went with a San Francisco staple and Dave made cioppino.  I wanted delicious soup as well, so I made this Mixed Mushroom Soup from 101 Cookbooks.  I’m not a huge barley fan, so I used wild rice instead.  For such a simple recipe, it was really complex and delicious.  We served the soups with sourdough bread.

For a special treat, I made marbled cupcakes that were supposed to be red and yellow, with red frosting.  The color didn’t turn out so well, but the game did!  Niners won and advanced to the NFC Championship game against the Falcons.

I think our food theme for the day was small foods, although I can’t remember why now.  These taco cups turned out really well.  I cut circles out of flour tortillas, pressed them into muffin tins, and baked until crispy.  I then layered in vegan chorizo, refried beans, and Daiya cheddar shreds and baked again until melted.  Topped with shredded lettuce and tomato, they were delicious!

I roasted some red and yellow beets, just to have some red and yellow food.

For dessert, mini double chocolate muffins with local Ghirardelli.

For the Super Bowl, we went with typical Super Bowl party foods.

I put together a red and yellow veggie tray with agave mustard dressing and salsa.

I was seeing a lot of buffalo dips around the internet at the time, and found many versions of buffalo chickpea dip.  I went with this cashew and bean-based version, which seemed at least a little healthier than the others.

The dip turned out to be really tasty, perfect with carrot and celery sticks.  The one thing I didn’t like is that the chickpeas were really chunky compared to the creamy dip, so next time I would chop them up a bit for better distribution.

Lastly, I made my previously undefeated cookie cake.  I also made cookie cakes for the Packers and Giants most recent Super Bowl wins, so I was two for two.  I would like to think that the horrible attempt at red icing and the fact that I forgot the red part around the inside of the S didn’t have anything to do with the fact that the Niners unfortunately lost, ending what was an unexpectedly fantastic season.

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VeganMoFo: Celebrations

This is my 300th post!  To celebrate, I figured I’d show you some celebration food.

St. Patrick’s Day – corned beef seitan, spinach potato patties, soda bread, a shamrock shake made with avocado and mint, and Guinness Extra Stout.  Guinness Extra Stout distributed in the US is vegan!

Cinco de Mayo – ground “beef” tacos with guacamole, rice and beans.

Valentine’s Day – Chocolate Covered Katie’s Snickerdoodle Blondies cut into cute little heart shapes.

Easter – homemade peanut butter cups.  I was going to make eggs but Michael’s was out of egg-shaped molds, so hearts it was!  The filling was 1/2 cup smooth peanut butter mixed with 2 teaspoons melted Earth Balance and 1/2 cup powdered sugar.  The coating was a 12 ounce bag of chocolate chips melted with 1 Tablespoon coconut oil.  The cups had a really good texture, but you could taste the coconut oil a bit, so I’d reduce it next time.

all packed up for shipping

I made the Ultimate Vegan Brownies from veganbaking.net to send to my mom for her birthday.  There are a few steps to the recipe, but it’s so worth it – they are by far the best vegan brownies I’ve ever had.  They’re the perfect mixture of fudgey and cakey and crumbly, and even have the desirable crunchy top.

We went to a San Francisco Giants tailgate for Dave’s cousin’s birthday, so I brought cupcakes – yellow cupcakes with chocolate frosting and white and orange sprinkles for the Giants fans.

I’m not a horseracing fan, but Dave and some of our friends are, so we had a little gathering for the Kentucky Derby.  I made Wolffie’s Derby Pie from La Dolce Vegan.  The filling starts as something like a dough, with flour, margarine, sugar and flax seeds, which you then combine with chocolate chips and walnuts.  It’s probably one of the richest things I’ve ever made, and so delicious.

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Seussical Cupcakes

There are still plenty of sweet prizes available in my Team ASPCA raffle!  I’m only about halfway to my goal of $2300, so please consider donating for the animals!

I was thrilled that I was able to attend my sister-in-law Kiersten’s baby shower back in March on the east coast, since I don’t get to see my family very often.  Kiersten chose a Dr. Seuss theme for the nursery, so that was the shower theme as well.  I signed on to bake cupcakes, as I like to do!

My mom did an awesome job with the food and decor.

fruit skewers

green (deviled) eggs, no ham

veggies and hummus, which I ate much of

I wanted the cupcakes to be whimsical and unexpected, and, of course, delicious.  The first flavor I made was banana split, from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World.

We adorned them with cute picks that my mom made from Dr. Seuss stickers.  The cupcakes were a bit of work between all the components, but they were really tasty and very fun!

The second flavor was root beer float, dressed up as Thing 1 and Thing 2.  I felt pretty clever about this idea, but to be fair, I found it on the internet.

The labels didn’t stick on the liners with tape or glue, so it was fortunate that mom had a cupcake holder where we could just kind of tuck them in.  The frosting (“hair”) didn’t turn out exactly as I had hoped, but all things considered, I thought they were pretty cute.  To make them taste a little more special, I added a bit of butter extract (which is totally vegan) to the frosting, so it tasted more like vanilla cream.  The root beer cupcake recipe was from My Sweet Vegan, and turned out nicely after I added a bit more flour to the batter.  The root beer flavor wasn’t overpowering; those who didn’t know what flavor to expect had a hard time putting their finger on it, but once told they could definitely taste the root beer.

After snacking and some games, the lovely Kiersten opened presents.  I only wish that I could’ve spent more time at home, and now that baby Josie is here I can’t wait to meet her!

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Vegan Weekends (or, The Post of Many Pictures)

Against my predictions, June was just as crazy for me as May, if not a bit crazier.  Almost every day of every weekend was booked, and then some.  So without further ado, here’s what I’ve been up to for the last five weekends…

The first weekend of June we had some friends join in on our tailgating for an A’s game and bf and I kind of went all out.  BF has been interested lately in making our own buns for hamburgers, which translates into ME making our own buns for hamburgers.  I had seen some loaves of Easy French Bread from La Dolce Vegan floating around the blog world, so I made some buns using that recipe.

I forgot to add the sesame seeds until after the second rise, and in adding them and trying to make sure they didn’t fall off I basically pressed all the rise out of the buns, so they were a little flatter then I wanted.  They tasted good though, and were definitely sturdy enough to stand up to burgers.

I don’t know what got in to me, but I had a mad desire to make Ramen Slaw, which is a dish commonly found at southern pot lucks and the like.  I found and followed a recipe online, but for the life of me I can’t find it again.  I’ll post up the link when I get home.

Ramen slaw, up close and personal.

Post-almond topping.

Here’s my plate:  veggie burger on homemade bun, grilled corn that I accidentally set on fire (like for real, flaming husks and all) and ramen slaw.  I went back for seconds on the slaw, so good.

It was bf’s cousin’s birthday, so I made dessert too.  I had a hard time deciding but in the end wound up trying the Black Bottom Blondies from My Sweet Vegan.

The look innocent enough from the top…

Bonus chocolate layer!  These were tasty enough, but honestly I didn’t like the texture.  It was kind of gummy and dense.  I’m thinking I may have overbeaten the batter, but the instructions say to beat it!

The next Saturday I was invited to a picnic at Tilden Park to celebrate the marriage of my friends Becca and Steve.  They got married in New York, so this was a nice was for us to get together.  I was completely blanking on a good picnic food to bring, so I asked Becca and she suggested the ranch dressing that she had at my house once.  Easy enough!

The food was good and simple, perfect for a picnic.  First plate:  veggie burger, chips & hummus, veggies & ranch.

Second plate:  fruit salad, pasta salad, tofu and tomatoes and more cucumbers.

Third plate, just because the roasted red peppers and grilled zucchini were done.

Lucky for all of us, Melisser of Sugar Beet Sweets made cupcakes!

Gluten free strawberry shortcake and peanut butter cup.

La la lemon and chocoate chocoalte.  I had a lemon and a pb cup.  Oink oink!  You can’t only have one of Melisser’s cupcakes.

Tilden Park is kind of amazing in an it’s-huge-and-you-will-get-lost kind of way.  There is a great old style carousel, and after lunch a group of us decided to act like children and go on it.  There are all sorts of beautiful, detailed animals.

Deer, zebra and kitty.

Lion, rooster, frog and horse.  There was also a dog and a panda and lord knows what else.  I chose the frog.  Becca didn’t want to ride because of motion sickness, so she tried to snap pictures of us.

My head is on the left above the rooster head.  Good times!

The next day I drove down to Santa Cruz to meet the NorCal PPK crew at Amey’s house for a potluck.  This was a vegan potluck of a magnitude never achieved before, and quite possibly never matched again.  Here’s the table when I got there, and food seemed to flow in continuously afterwards too.

Overflow area:

My contributions were a layered salad bar-style salad with iceberg, red cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, cucumbers, red and green bell peppers, carrots, peas, red onions, seitan pepperoni, bacos, sunflower seeds, croutons and choice of ranch or balsamic vinaigrette.

And Fatfree Vegan’s Southern-Style Banana Pudding.  This was a big hit – really delicious and very easy to make.  I used EcoPlanet vanilla cookies because they were all I could find, and it worked well.

Obviously, I had to try a little of everything.  Plate 1:  empanada, mini bagel with herb spread, pirogi with caramelized onions, crackers with walnut miso dip, bread with yellow pepper dip, a spring roll with garlic scapes and mandarins and other crazy stuff, and grilled tofu on baguette with some sort of delicious spread.

Plate 2: pasta salad, salad with ranch, chips and guacamole,

I was stuffed at this point and put off dessert as long as I could stand, but it all looked so good!  Some more non-dessert arrived in the meantime, so that’s why there’s green on my mostly-dessert plate:  brussels sprouts with pistachios, braised peach and fig salad, swedish cinnamon roll, raspberries, key lime pie with white chocolate mousse, rice krispy treat, apple coffee cake and banana pudding.

As if all that wasn’t enough, Melisser made a ridiculous dessert.  If I remember correctly it was pie crust, cookie dough, cake AND meringue.  Here she is torching the meringue.

Inside shot.

Group shot!

There were SEVEN doggies at the potluck (three of which were Amey’s), and surprisingly enough I liked them all!  All the doggie owners tried to wrangle them in for a picture.

Here’s the ever-popular Strummer, sunning herself on Megan’s lap.

Our gracious host Amey with Snoopy the cutie-pie.

And my favorite pittbull, Fiona.

After pigging out we all sat around and chatted for a while, then Megan, Melisser, her husband Ryan and I went to downtown Santa Cruz to walk around and check out some shops, so at least I worked off a FEW calories.  Check out Amey’s blog post here, she has more detailed pictures of most of the food.

The next weekend we went to Vegas!  BF’s sister is graduating from her master’s program and wanted to get together to celebrate so a group of 13 of us went, mostly bf’s family and his sister’s boyfriend’s family.  Whew.  We scored an amazing rate at Paris, and really enjoyed staying there.  It’s a comfortable hotel, and the kind of place you wouldn’t really have to leave the whole weekend if you didn’t want to.

We got in late afternoon on Friday, settled in, and ate at a cafe in Paris that really isn’t worth writing about, except for the fact that I got a whole bottle of wine for $8 when most of their single glasses are more than that.

HERE is what Vegas means to me.

Ronald’s Donuts, my friends.  The donuts are out of this world good, they have soy milk for coffee, and I will happily make myself sick eating their apple fritters.  Here I am, slightly hungover and unshowered, in apple fritter heaven.

We had plans for dinner but needed to have a late lunch somewhere, because one cannot exist on apple fritters alone.  Enter Le Burger Brasserie in Paris.  I took a chance that this place would have something I could eat, and I won!  Upon inquiring of the waiter if their veggie burger had any dairy or eggs, he cringed and said “Yeah, I think it does…it has mushrooms, grains, vegan cheese…Wait!  Vegan cheese has no dairy!” and checked with the kitchen to be completely sure.

This was a good, good veggie burger.  The patties are made in-house, and are at least an inch thick and very tasty.  It comes with two topping, but I added one and chose portobello, avocado and caramelized onions.  Seriously, this was one of the best veggie burgers I have ever had and I’d recommend Le Burger Brasserie over the meal I had at Burger Bar easily.

The one caveat about this place is that it’s not cheap.  The burgers don’t come with fries, you have to order them separately.  But I would recommend that you do.

Because their fries are really good, despite the blurry image.  They have steak fries, shoestring fries AND waffle fries and you can get a three fry sampler if you want.

Sometimes when the waiter forgets to ask whether you want an orange or lemon slice with your Widmer and they bring you both, you put them both in.  It’s Vegas, you gotta get a little crazy!

Dinner that night was at The Wynn Buffet, where the lighting apparently does horrible things to my pictures.  Like last time I visited, I didn’t get to check that anything was vegan, but when in doubt went the cautious route.  So don’t take my word for it on this stuff…

Plate 1:  salad with vinaigrette, asparagus and pea salad, strawberries, dried fruit, marinated artichoke, pickles and a little piece of bread.

Plate 2:  pita with hummus and baba ganoush, rice pilaf, curried chickpeas.

Plate 3:  Asian slaw, spicy cucumbers with citrus, sushi, seaweed salad, and the most amazing miso udon which I tried to replicate after the last time I had it but didn’t really come close.

I also had a few bites of sorbet for dessert, but it was nothing picture worthy.  For the life of me I can’t remember where or if we had lunch the next day.  Maybe I just ate a bunch of donuts?

For dinner, we had a date with Hoffbrauhaus, a full-on German-style restaurant like in Beer Fest.  You sit at a long table with other parties, there is a band with an accordion on stage, and the waitresses can carry multiple mugs of beer in one hand.  Look at this perfect pour!

The menu includes two vegetarian entrees, but they’re both laden with cheese or cream, so I asked about a few side dishes and ended up getting three.

Yummy pretzel with sweet mustard.

Cucumber salad, which was good but not worth the $7 it costed.

Red cabbage.  The flavor was good, but they somehow managed to make the cabbage HEAVY.  I couldn’t even finish this small bowl.

I would recommend the Hoffbrauhaus if you’re into that sort of thing, but warn that it is not really within walking distance of the strip.  It may look like it is on a map, but please take a cab!

After dinner we went to Cirque du Soleil Mystere at TI.  It was quite a show, but overall I think I liked La Nouba in Orlando better.  Not that Mystere was bad, it just wasn’t better than La Nouba.  It was also really expensive; our discount tickets were more than I really wanted to pay, but I wasn’t going to miss out on the opportunity.

That was it for us in Vegas, but on the way out of town we stopped off at Ronald’s again.  I had asked around in the Bay Area to see if anyone wanted donuts brought back and had a large response.  So I bought ten half dozens, which didn’t include the donuts I bought for the ride home, or the donuts that the sweet people at Ronald’s GAVE to me!  Here are the donuts I distributed, with my pepper grinder for size reference (and bonus grease spots).

The next weekend, in addition to going to two baseball games, I baked a donation for the San Francisco Worldwide Vegan Bakesale.

These are Chocolate Chip-Raspberry Blondies from Vegan With A Vengeance, but made with Blackberries instead.  They are super-duper good and I can’t believe I waited this long to try them!  I did have a tricky time getting the blackberry filling to work, it kind of seized up and got stringy.  The recipe calls for tapioca powder and I used tapioca flour because I thought they were the same thing.  Anyone know if they’re the same thing?  I added some extra water to the filling and despite being really sticky, it worked out.

Seeing as SF is not a short trip exactly, and I had a hard time getting going that morning, I was a few hours late for the bakesale.  They had already sold out of a lot of items, but had enough to keep going.

We did really well with foot traffic due to our fantasitc location in front of Ike’s.  Ike’s has pretty much the best sandwiches ever (with extensive vegan options), so of course I had to get one.  I really wanted the Paul Reubens special but they had run out of Tofurkey, so I had a “Not So Sloppy” – meatballs and bbq sauce.

So friggin’ good!  And if you order a vegan sandwich they give you a vegan lollipop.

The bakesale was a HUGE success.  Between the two days and locations they raised $3,000 dollars.  Three thousand!  The proceeds were split between Animal Place and East Bay Animal Advocates.  I feel proud to have been a small part of such a great event.  Thanks to Melisser and Laura for organizing!

That brings us to this past weekend, which was the Fourth of July.  We kept it small and just went to a friend’s house to grill, hang out and play board games.  I decided to make a fancy grilled portobello sandwich, and started by marinating some big mushrooms according to this recipe.

During the veggie grilling session (after the grill had been cleaned of any remaining meats) we cooked the portobellos along with pattypan squash and corn.

I served the mushrooms on storebought ciabatta with lettuce, caramelized onions and avocado-horseradish sauce.  Delightful!  The portobellos weren’t the best I’ve ever made, but I think that had more to do with me cooking them over high heat for a few minutes too long than it did with the recipe.

In keeping with my one year tradition of making a red, white and blue dessert, I put together a trifle.  The layers are lemon pound cake from Veganomicon, strawberries, blueberries and coconut whipped cream.  I was going to do a simple silken tofu whipped cream but couldn’t find silken tofu anywhere, so I bought two cans of coconut milk, remembering that I had read somewhere that you could whip it into cream.  I followed the technique of this recipe, using all the cream from the tops of both cans (about 1 1/2 cups), 6 Tbs powdered sugar, 4 Tbs soy milk powder, 1 tsp almond extract, and a pinch of salt.  It did whip up and turned out nicely.

While I was carefully layering the trifle, bf asked me “Why are you arranging it so carefully if you’re just going to cover it up?”.  Well, this is why:

Trifle’s are supposed to look pretty from the side!

And from the top.  It tasted really good too.  There were lots of flavors going on between the vanilla and lemon in the pound cake, the coconut and almond in the cream and the berries, but it came together well and the pound cake had the perfect squishy consistency.

Lastly, here is how Jake likes to spend his time while I’m out galavanting and running around.

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VeganMoFo: A Very Vegan Weekend

I’m still not doing so well with the whole VeganMoFo thing.  I’m sure I’m not the only one though, it’s the thought that counts.  Right?  At any rate, tomorrow we will have internets at the house and I will no longer have to go to the public library to get it!

Last weekend was a very, very vegan weekend.  It started Friday night with the VegNews Vegan a Go-Go party for Sarah Kramer’s new cookbook of the same name.  It was a small party, so I’m glad I got a ticket when I did.  The site was a salon by day, and it was really cool how they opened it up and turned it into a party room.  There were beers on ice in the hair washing sinks, and most everything else was cleared out save a few styling chairs.  I came hungry which was good, because the food was great.  It was the “passed around on trays” kind of party hors dourves, including “rocket dogs” (pigs in blankets), “knuckle sandwiches” (some sort of smooth eggish salad on toast), mushrooms pate and onion dip.  Drinks were “pink ladies” (vodka and lemonade), PBR, and root beer floats made with organic root beer and Maggie Mud ice cream.  Dessert was coconut islands and chocolate chip cookies.  The soundtrack was Sinatra.  There were door prizes (which I won none of), and Sarah Kramer did some Q&A.  She is just as adorable in person as you would think.  I came armed with my camera and intentions of taking food pictures, but the room was so packed I felt it was better not to try.  I did get a picture with Sarah though!

Saturday was the first day of The SF Vegetarian Society’s World Veg Festival Weekend.  I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but I was pleasantly surprised.  There was food for sale, samples galore, food demos, talks, music, AR groups and other booths.  There were a few demos and talks I wanted to go too, but I got frustrated during the first demo I attended.  The chef (Jesse Miner) did a great job talking about heirloom beans, but some people in the crowd were asking incredibly basic question, some even completely off topic.  Jesse was extremely kind and patient.  I guess I was in a cranky mood, because I didn’t want to sit through any more talks.  We spend the rest of the time walking around and marveling at all the samples and information.  Oh, and eating.

I started with a taquito and beans, covered in SPICY avocado salsa.

My first treat of the day, a scrumptious brownie from Sugar Beat Sweets, which is run by Melisser of The Urban Housewife.

Miss Melisser, with her lovely assistant-for-the-day Mel, of Veglicious.

One of my favorite discoveries of the day:  Gone Nuts!  They make the most amazing flavored nuts, and had samples out of every kind.  I bought my favorites:  Maple walnuts (ridiculously better than they sound) and cacao almonds and raisins.  Supposedly they’re available in grocery stores around these parts, so I look forward to buying them again.

I ate a big cup of Maggie Mudd ice cream.  It was just as good as I thought it would be.  I forget exactly what the flavor were called, but on top is some sort of rum/caramel flavor which was extremely rummy.  Underneath was “Reversed Tarmack”.  All I remember is there was peanut butter and chocolate, and that’s all that matters.

Done with Veg Fest, we weren’t quite ready to leave.  Luckily the botanical gardens were right next door.  The gardens were large and beautifully layed out with lots of walking paths.  And the squirrels weren’t afraid to say hi.

I have to conclude that these squirrels get fed human food quite a bit, because they were begging the way a dog or a cat would!  A few of them sat up straight on their haunches like prairie dogs do, and one even raised a paw just like a dog begging for table scraps.

I went a little beserk with the plant picture taking, as I tend to do.  A few of my faves:

On the way out of Veg Fest I stopped back by Sugar Beat Sweets for some cupcakes.  I was going to a birthday party that night, so I got one for me, one for the birthday boy, and one for bf.  It was a gesture, really.  He doesn’t like cupcakes, so I knew I’d probably get to eat it…

In the front is PB&J, back is Mint Chocolate, and left is Orange Dreamsicle.  The birthday boy chose PB&J so in the end I ate half of the other two.  They were both great, but I have to say I was impressed with how good the Orange Dreamsicle cupcake was.  I didn’t think that would be a flavor I’d like that much, but it was downright great.

That does it for today!  Tomorrow I will be in possession of internets and then it’s full steam ahead.

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Dining Out @ The Top & 43rd St Deli, Cupsidedowncakes

My friend Jackie was in town last Thursday for her birthday and she wanted to go to The Top for dinner, which was A-OK with me.  The Top has a few vegan dinner options, cool atmosphere, generally friendly service, and good beer selection.  What gets me about their menu is that it could easily be much more vegan friendly with just a few tweaks.  For instance, all of the sauces that come with entrees and pastas are cream sauces.  I feel like if they’d offer one or two non-cream based sauces it would open up the menu to tons of options.  Oddly enough, there are more clearly marked vegan options on their Sunday brunch menu than their normal menu.  They have the BEST vegan biscuits and gravy on Sundays.

We started with Sweet Potato Fries.  They come with a dipping sauce that is not vegan, but I’m just fine with ketchup.

sweet potato fries

For this particular dinner, I went with the Caesar Salad, which is no longer marked vegan on the menu for some reason.  The waiter reassured me that it still is.  I add spicy blackened tofu, which they put on the salad while it’s still very hot so it wilts some of the lettuce nicely.  The dressing, while not as great as the caesar recipe in VCON, is quite good and gives you really lovely garlic breath.

caesar salad

Jackie likes vegan cupcakes, and I had two over-ripe bananas, so I took the opportunity to try my first recipe from My Sweet Vegan, the Bananas Foster Cake.  The recipe calls for five bananas and makes two 9-inch cakes, so I halved it and subbed applesauce for my missing half banana.  This was enough batter for eight cupcakes, but I think I overfilled them because instead of poofing up like a cupcake should, they got kind of a flat muffin-top.

bananas foster cupcake

Really this wasn’t a problem at all, but I was feeling inventive, so I turned ‘em upside down and trimmed off the tops with a cookie cutter that just happened to be the perfect size.  I ate the trimmings and soaked rum into the “bottoms” of the cakes.

bananas foster cupake

The only real issue I ran into was the frosting.  The recipe tells you to microwave brown sugar with water to make caramel, then mix it into a buttercream frosting.  The first time I microwaved the mixture I let it stand too long and it re-solidified – my fault.  The second attempt, I let it stand for just a minute or two then mixed it in, but immediately the sugar solidified into clumps and the frosting started to melt.  The clumps prevented me from piping the frosting, so in the end I just blobbed in on top.

bananas foster cupcake

So that’s the story of how I invented Cupsidedowncakes.  I may overfill cupcakes again in the near future to see if I can recreate it, because they’re pretty cute and fun to eat this way.  And the verdict on the Bananas Foster Cake recipe is that it’s frickin’ delicious and ridiculously moist.  I would highly recommend giving it a try, although I’m not sure what to do about the frosting dilemma.  Here is the birthday girl enjoying one.

jackie cupcake

Saturday morning we wanted breakfast, and I’m so glad we’ve discovered 43rd St Deli, even if it was a little late in the game.  Now, the trick is, there are three locations in town.  I had heard these myths of vegan breakfast specialties, but never believed because I had gone to two locations not to find much more than a veggie scramble.  Finally I realized it was only at one location where I could find the vegan label on the menu, and it happened to be the one nearest to us (the one on 13th St).  We have been many times now, and the food is always good.  I’ve had their biscuits and gravy, which they do with mushrooms, roasted peppers and savory flavors, the french toast, pan-seared oatmeal cakes with balsamic reduction, and the huge strawberry pancakes, which have strawberry slices baked right in.  All of the vegan dishes are on the Specials menu, and they do change, although I think the biscuits and gravy is kind of permanent.

I was pleased to see a new special that I suspected was vegan, and upon the waitresses confirmation I ordered Tempeh Hominy Hash.  We are fortunate to have locally made tempeh that many restaurants in town serve.  This hash also included onion, shredded potato, mushrooms and spinach.

tempeh hominy hash

The flavor needed to be perked up just a tad, and it was perfect with some Tabasco.  This dish came with choice of one side, but instead of potatoes I subbed their Nutritional Yeast Encrusted Tofu.  This tofu look unassuming, but it’s so incredibly good.  I don’t know how they do it.  I get this tofu every time, no matter what else I’m getting or that it’s normally way too much food.

nooch encrusted tofu

It also came with choice of bread.  I asked for “whatever’s vegan” and she brought me a biscuit.  I didn’t realize their biscuits were so huge when I’d had them covered in gravy.

biscuit

Now that I’ve discussed all this great Gainesville food, I have an announcement:  I’m moving!  To California!  In a month!  BF and I are driving cross-country and hopefully ending up somewhere in the East Bay, near San Francisco.  So for the next month you may have to bear with me while I eat my way through the pantry and freezer, and probably have less time took cook.  I’ll try my best to keep it interesting.

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Tres de Mayo

My friend Hope had a graduation party on Saturday (congrats, Hope!).  With Cinco de Mayo upon us, and considering none of our circle really go out on Mondays, she dubbed it Tres de Mayo.  Her boyfriend Tom, who is quite a cook, told me he was going to go with a taco bar setup, and Hope was readying margaritas and Mexican beer.  Tom confirmed that I would be able to eat the tortillas, refried beans, pico de gallo, and his most excellent guacamole.  Yes, that would be more than enough to fill me up, but you know me – I always go overboard and I like to get all fancy.  So I made some foods and hauled them over to the party.

I’ll start with the Breakfast Veggie Chorizo from VWAV.  This stuff is goo-ood.  It took me longer to cook the liquid off than the directions said, but that’s alright.  It was probably the first time I’ve cooked with tvp where I didn’t burn it to the bottom of the pot!  There were two vegetarians at the party (an unusual occurrence for me) who greatly appreciated it, and vegan-skeptic Tom even filled a taco with it.  Granted, that was after a few beers…

chorizo

I whipped up this Jalapeno Salsa from Veg*n Cooking and Other Random Musings.  It couldn’t be easier – chop, cook and blend.  And it tastes great!  I left the seeds in one jalapeno and seeded the rest, and that provided a really nice medium level of heat.

jalapeno salsa

Why do my first two pictures kind of look like upchuck?

Moving on, I made a Mexican Slaw for our Cinco de Mayo party last year that I had to make again.  I don’t know where I got the recipe from – probably a magazine many years ago, so I’ll post the recipe.  The hardest part is peeling and shredding the jicama.  I was going to use my food processor, but for the life of me I couldn’t find the shredding blade.

mexican slaw

Mexican Slaw

Serves 8.

1/3 cup olive oil
2 Tbs orange juice (from 1/2 an orange)
2 Tbs lime juice (from 1 lime)
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp sugar
dash of cayenne pepper
1 (10-oz) package finely shredded cabbage
1/2 lb jicama, shredded (2 cups)
1 large carrot, shredded (about 1/2 cup)
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Whisk together olive oil and next 8 ingredients in a large bowl.  Add shredded cabbage and remaining ingredients, and toss to coat.  Cover and chill slaw mixture at least 4 hours.

My dad gave me a huge bottle of sangria a while back, and I was waiting for the perfect opportunity to get rid of it.  Tres de Mayo fit the bill.  I mixed in sliced lemon, orange and lime, brandy and triple sec, and served it with club soda to thin down the strength a tad.  I couldn’t confirm or deny the vegan-ness of this, but wine is an area I sometimes choose my vegan battles.

sangria

Here’s my plate from the taco bar, which was truly impressive.  My tacos had refried beans, chorizo, guac, jalapeno salsa, pico de gayo and dashes of Tapatio, slaw and chips on the side.  I had a couple more tacos as the night went on.

taco bar

I also wanted to make a dessert.  I immediately thought of a Mexican Chocolate Cake (scroll down a bit) that I printed from Yeah, That Vegan Shit last year around Cinco de Mayo.  I was thinking about adding cayenne and cinnamon flavors to chocolate.  I was also thinking about cupcakes, because I didn’t think Tom and Hope would appreciate having 20 extra plates and forks to wash.  Then I got to thinking about Green and Black’s Maya Gold Chocolate, which also has orange in it.  I decided to make Maya Gold Chocolate Lava Cupcakes, with the sauce from the original recipe acting as a filling in the cupcakes.

Unfortunately, I ran short on time and tried to microwave the sauce and that just didn’t work AT ALL.  So the cupcakes got a dressing of powdered sugar and went to the party mostly naked.  They were well received, but I thought the sauce was the missing part that would knock everyone’s socks off.

maya gold cupcakes

Luckily, a few of them survived the party and the next day I got to completele my experiment.  I was right – the cupcakes are good plain, but the sauce takes them to the next level.  I based the sauce on the ganache from VCTOTW, mostly because I knew I could depend on it being the right consistency.

maya gold lava cupcake

Maya Gold Chocolate Lava Cupcakes

Makes 24 cupcakes.

Cupcakes:
3 cups flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder, sifted
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 Tbs white vinegar
1/2 cup + 2 Tbs canola oil
2 cups water
2 cups sugar
powdered sugar for decorating

Sauce:
6 oz. Green & Blacks Maya Gold Chocolate
6 Tbs soy milk
3 tsp sugar

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line and/or lightly grease 4 cupcake pans.
2. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and spices.
3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the vanilla extract, vinegar, canola oil, water and sugar. Make a well in the dry ingredients, add the wet ingredients and mix until just combined.
4. Using a 1/4 cup measure, fill the cupcake pans to about 2/3 full. Bake for 20-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Let cool completely.
5. Meanwhile, make the sauce. Place the soy milk in a small saucepan and bring just to a light boil. Add the chocolate and sugar and stir with a rubber spatula until combined. Set aside to come to room temperature.
6. When cupcakes and sauce are cooled, fill the cupcakes. Put the sauce in a pastry bag fitted with a medium round tip. Poke a finger into the middle of each cupcake and move it around to make a cavity. Fill the cavities with a small amount of sauce, and garnish with powdered sugar.

Note: This will also make 2 9-inch layer cakes – bake for 30 to 35 minutes then use the sauce as filling and topping.

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

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