Monthly Archives: December 2008

Holidays, NYC and lots of dessert

homemade cinnamon bun

It is the last day of 2008! Had to squeeze in one last delicious post before the new year. I’m excited for all the projects and plans coming up. I know it’s going to be an awesome year.

Before moving forward, I’m going to have to look back for a moment as the past weeks have been terribly busy and I haven’t had a chance to show off some of the treats we’ve been indulging in. I made the above cinnamon bun from The Joy of Vegan Baking. I’ve been dying to make these, but was a bit scared off by the prep time. Since I have had a couple of days off, I finally had a chance to indulge myself. It was extra inspired by smelling the Cinnabon in the airport the day prior. Despite the fact that those things are quite possibly one of the most disgusting creations ever, the sure do smell good.

I ended up over cooking my buns a bit, but I think this may have had a bit to do with using new cookie sheets. They still tasted awesome, and were even better reheated the next morning with coffee.

peppermint cookies and cream cupcake

For my family Christmas party, I opted to bring cupcakes rather than anything to actually eat for dinner. It worked out rather well as a bunch of my cousins happened to make vegan vegetable dishes. I made peppermint cookies and cream cupcakes. The cupcakes themselves came out amazing, perfectly moist and chocolaty. I still can’t decide if I liked the peppermint in the icing though, it was good, but perhaps too much. Maybe not though.

cookies and cream cake

Shawn and I went back East to spend time with his family for the holidays. It was super exciting for me to show up and see snow on the ground.

I feel very lucky to have so many vegan restaurants in Los Angeles to go to, but it’s nothing like going to NYC. There’s just a different style of vegan/vegetarian restaurant there. The other thing that gets me super excited is getting to have some Vegan Treats. Pretty much every vegan restaurant in the area serves their desserts and there is honestly nothing like them. Over the summer, Shawn and I made a pilgrimage to their storefront in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania where I was even more blown away by their selection of French pastries.

On one of our days in the city, we had lunch at Curly’s. I had a toastie with tomato, which is basically a vegan grilled cheese with red pesto and of course tomato. It was one of the most satisfying lunches. Simple and tasty and exactly what I wanted. Shawn had the Suno melt. I’ve had vegan tuna melts before, but have never been impressed. I only had a bite, but this was super good. Of course, we had to get some dessert, and I insisted on a cookies and cream cake, freshly delivered from Vegan Treats the previous day. The cake was moist and the frosting light and fluffy. Honestly, exactly how cake should taste, sweet and rewarding.

peanut butter cheesecake

The night before we left for home we went out to dinner at Caravan of Dreams. We split nachos and muchroom ravioli with an almond cream sauce. The nachos were really good and basic. Tasty but nothing special. The ravioli on the other hand was super good. It was nice to have something different and something unlike anything we usually eat. It was light and subtly flavored. Oddly enough it was served with slices of avocado, which actually complimented the dish really well. My only complaint about the place was that it was very expensive. Not the kind of place that would be worth eating on a regular basis, but ok for a special occasion. On the other hand, it’s the kind of food that makes you feel good after you eat it.

cookies and cream brownie

For dessert we walked down to Atlas Cafe for some more Vegan Treats. Shawn got a slice of peanut butter cheesecake and I had a brownie with cookies and cream frosting. I can’t express how much I really love Vegan Treats and wish that it was also on the West coast. Everything was so good. We saved a bit of our treats and ordered sandwiches which we saved for the plane the next day.

At some point we also made a quick stop at Moo Shoes and Babycakes. I’m sure a lot of people will disagree with me, but after some more sampling, I’m really not a fan of Babycakes. Their desserts just don’t quite fulfill my sweet tooth. I can’t really pinpoint what it is about them that I don’t care for. The best way I can describe it is that I always feel a level of excitement when I enjoy a really good vegan dessert. Babycakes just doesn’t give me that thrill. I also am not a fan of their prices at all. Some cupcakes cost nearly $5 and that seems outrageous to me.

So that’s about it for 2008. Many exciting things to come in the future. I hope everyone had lovely holidays and Happy New Year!

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Filed under cupcakes, NYC, vegan treats

Vegan Blogger Potluck

This past Saturday Shawn and I were invited to a Los Angeles vegan blogger potluck organized by Your Vegan Mom and Hugger Food. Although I’d been to a number of the blogs present, I hadn’t met any of the bloggers in real life. It made me quite nervous to make food for a bunch of strangers, let alone a group of vegans who write about food on the internet!

I decided to make mini-paninis filled with portobellos, spinach and white bean spread. I sauteed the portobellos in wine and olive oil with a sprig of fresh rosemary for about half an hour till they were soft.

The white bean spread was a bit of an experiment. I looked over some recipes but didn’t really bother to follow any of them. I also didn’t bother to write down what I actually did but here’s the basic idea.

1 can white beans, drained
4 large cloves of roasted garlic
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 sprigs fresh rosemary, chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Put all the ingredients in a food processor and blend until fairly smooth.

To assemble the paninis:

Cut a baguette style loaf of french bread into 1/2 inch slices. Spread one half of each panini with vegenaise and the other with the white bean spread. Put the sauteed mushrooms and spinach on one half of the bread and then the other half on top. Drizzle with a tiny bit of olive oil and follow the directions for your panini maker. You could also toast these and I’m sure they would come out quite well.

The potluck was really quite fun. Everyone was super nice and it was great to hear the scoop about different vegan places around town. More importantly, the food was great. It’s not often that you get to go to a party and just enjoy all the food.

Before I ate anything, I got to enjoy some lovely pear and ginger cocktails crafted by Your Vegan Mom. They were a touch sweet but definitely not sugary, which I believe is ideal for a fruit based cocktail. Yum!

Foodeater of To Live and Eat in LA brought some Thai appetizers made fresh. Some of the descriptions of these were quite comical, but everyone seemed to love them. I had some of one of the rice rolls filled with banana and beans which was delicious.

I made a small sampling plate of some of the dippable fare. Here you can see the potato-parsnip latkes with applesauce from Hugger Food, pate with toast from Liz at Yo Soy, vegan Doritos with spinach dip from Quarrygirl and baked ravioli with marinara from Lex at Vegan-LA.

Jenn from Veganize It, Don’t Criticize It made a brisket that was really rather good as well. She of course also brought some of her notorious twinkies filled with jelly.

Kevin from the The Vegan Collection brought cinnamon rolls. I’ve been dying to make some for a couple of weeks now, but haven’t had the time so I was quite pleased to have these. There were even more delicious desserts, such as Quarrygirl’s chocolate chip cheesecake and Hugger Food’s twice spiced ginger cookies.

I really had such a great time going this event and cannot wait till there is another. It was so nice to meet everyone and munch on all the treats.

It’s going to be a busy couple of weeks with the holidays coming up so this may be the last post for awhile (hopefully not the last of the year). I have a number of projects in the works but they’ll have to wait to be revealed as they will ruin some gift surprises. Till then…

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Filed under panini, potluck

Sick Day

We make a lot of pizza here. Generally speaking, we buy dough from Trader Joe’s as it’s delicious and easy to work with. While Shawn is a veteran pizza maker, I’ve never made dough myself. A new test for my mixer and it’s dough hook!

Making the dough was super easy even though I was impatient to let it rise. It ended up being just a touch larger than our pizza stone so I had a little extra to play with. Just enough for one breadstick. I seasoned it with basil, nutritional yeast and garlic powder and put it in with the pizza.

The pizza turned out a touch crispier than the usual pizzas. It was so easy and relatively quick I definitely foresee more homemade crusts in the future.

I also finished the never ending hat project today. A few months ago I got some great organic cotton yarn to make a hat for Shawn. See, he only wears orange hats. I set out to make a hat with a simple cable stitch. It turned out to be too big. So I tried to make a simpler double knit hat that would be more like one he already had. Without a pattern though, this was a much more difficult task than I anticipated. The version you see above is the fifth incarnation of the hat. Finally it turned out right!

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Filed under breadsticks, mixer, orange hat

Thanksgiving and more

This Thanksgiving was all about stuffing. Shawn and I made probably about 20 servings worth of stuffing which has lasted us for days. We both spent the whole day in the kitchen with our various projects. Despite the potato peel disaster of 2008 everything turned out really well.

Instead of Tofurky, I made a version of the Seitan Roulade from Vegan Yum Yum. I filled it with apple cranberry stuffing (more stuffing!) that made it taste even better a day later. The fruit flavors seeped into the seitan after being refrigerated. Although it probably would have been prettier cut into smaller pieces, it was kind of fun to eat “caterpillars” for Thanksgiving.

Shawn made a monster batch of mashed potatoes that further tested the abilities of the new mixer. Of course they turned out smooth and delicious. I also made my first apple pie. I made the crust from scratch, which was slightly terrifying. Unfortunately I decided to bake it in our small oven (yes we have two) and ended up with a slightly burnt top crust. It still tasted really good, the filling was the perfect consistency and sweetness, and the bottom crust was not bad at all, but it wasn’t quite photo material. I can’t wait to try another.


I also got a new cupcake courier, and a good deal on it no less. I love this thing. I previously had a smaller carrier that carried 24 cupcakes but was always irritated that half the holders were too shallow and the other half were too deep. The new one holds 36 cupcakes securely for travel. It’s great. So here it is on it’s first delivery filled with red velvet, pumpkin spice and vanilla/chocolate cupcakes (from the top).

Hope everyone else had a great turkey-free Thanksgiving.

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Filed under cupcakes, thanksgiving