Friday, September 17, 2010


How familiar is this scene?

Hunger has set in and the stove looks like a daunting task, especially considering there's only you for lunch or dinner.

Fast food is tiring, expensive and not a reliable source -- not to mention lack of variety, nutrition and availability -- for vegans.

Perhaps, like myself, you also want to tell peanut butter, and it's counterpart, Jelly, to go take a hike for a while (but not too far -- I'd miss you).

Once every few weeks I take a trip to 'Ralph's Supermarket' to stock up on some vegan goodies that can't be found at my local store, 'Food-4-Less'.

I know what you're thinking; 'Ralph's is expensive!' -- and you're right. But you can also find more readily available organic produce and vegan products if you, like myself, don't feel like taking a drive downtown to your local natural foods center. Use your Ralph's club card for extra savings, too!

Yesterday's trip proved to be fruitful as I discovered 'Simply Asia' noodle bowls in 'Spicy Kung Pao' and 'Sesame Teriyaki' flavors (but be cautious and read the labels: not all their noodle bowls are vegan):

With my 'Ralph's' card I got two for $5.00 and the directions are ultra easy and quick.

So, for my lunch today I partook in a noodle bowl and accompanied it with two veggie spring rolls -- I buy an 18 pack box of 'Chung's Veggie Spring Rolls' for about $10.00 at 'Food-4-Less' (sometimes I can even find it cheaper) and it lasts quite a while (certainly more economical than buying them at a Chinese fast food place):

After devouring all those savory, spicy Asian flavors, for dessert I like to cool off with a little sweet by indulging in 'Turtle Trails' flavored soy frozen dessert by 'Purely Decadent': chocolate covered pecan pralines, caramel and vanilla -- ALL VEGAN (and I promise you that CANNOT tell it's not ice cream!), also found at 'Ralph's':

Of course I realize that making your own noodle stir-fry and spring rolls is likely more efficient and economical, but for those lonely lunches and dinners needing a quick fix, I find this to be the next best thing!

"Mànmàn chī!"(Mandarin Chinese) which roughly translates to happy eating!

Thursday, September 2, 2010


Take that, naysayers!

Chloe Coscarelli, a vegan cupcake chef in Los Angeles, CA., won the Food Network's 'Cupcake Wars' -- and $10,000.

While the episode was shot in June of this year, I only recently caught it a week ago -- and I gotta tell you, my cheering for this 'little chef that could' would rival any die hard football fan on Superbowl Sunday.

I kept saying; 'We need this one, Chloe! I need this win.'

No, I'm not part of a 'Fantasy Cupcake Team' -- I'm just a vegan gal who likes to see our 'alternative lifestyle' get noticed and rewarded.

In case you've never watched 'Cupcake Wars', you can typically catch it on Sunday and Tuesday evenings on The Food Network channel.

The premise is very much like 'Chopped':

They start off with four pastry chefs, each allowed to bring along one assistant.

There are also three judges and one annoying host whom I'd like to shove -- along with his too tight jeans and UN-funny quips -- into a blender on high speed before throwing him into the oven.

I always thought the witch in 'Hansel and Gretel' was highly misunderstood.

But...I digress.

Each show has it's own theme, typically for a high powered event in which the winning cupcakes --and their makers -- get to attend.

In this case the event was a singles mix hosted in Hollywood, CA.

There are three rounds after which one chef gets eliminated per round.

The last chef standing wins $10,000.

Round one is basically 'Lets see what you got' where the competitors are given a choice of several nontraditional cupcake ingredients (some play it safe and some don't) and blend them into a tasty treat.

*Chloe won round one with her ginger nutmeg spice cupcake with vanilla bean frosting, date drizzle and sweet almond topping.

The judges -- while skeptical at first of an all vegan cupcake -- proclaimed her creation to be 'perfect'.

Round two the contestants have to make three different cupcakes in a short amount of time for the judges:

Chloe made chocolate strawberry shortcake, dark chocolate orange and raspberry tiramisu (for which the recipe is posted at the end of this post).

*Chloe won round two, as well. Judges comments? 'Flawless & beautiful'.

Round three -- two contestants left -- you have to make 1000 cupcakes in 2 hours AND create a massive dessert display.

Sounds like a lot to do in two hours -- and it is! -- but fear not, 'Cupcake Wars' provides interns to help with the baking process during this marathon round as well as two carpenters to make your display vision (which must go with the theme) into a reality.

Chloe created a fiberglass display with a silhouette of a man and woman on each side and 'flames' in the center. For an even more romantic theme, each cupcake was then placed into a wine glass on top of the display shelves.

*Chloe scores the winning touchdown, with the last contestant to go home sneering: "I can't believe I lost to a vegan cupcake!'.

I can. Now go home, change your attitude and your diet -- and please in the name of all that is holy, brush your hair! You're on national T.V. for Pete's sake!

Sorry, Pete -- didn't mean to drag you into this.

Congratulations to Chloe -- you make us proud!

Here is Chloe's winning 'Raspberry Tiramisu Cupcake' recipe -- enjoy!

Raspberry Tiramisu Cupcake:

Serves 12 cupcakes
1 ½ cup flour
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup coconut milk, non-dairy milk, or water
½ cup canola oil
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

Soaking Liquid
1/3 cup amaretto
1 tablespoon instant espresso powder

Raspberry Sauce
1 cup raspberries (fresh or frozen)
½ cup agave or sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
dash of salt

1 tablespoon instant espresso powder ( I use Medaglia D' Oro brand. If you can't find espresso powder, you can use finely ground instant coffee.)
2 tablespoons amaretto liquor
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup refined coconut oil (I use Spectrum Organics brand, but feel free to use any brand that you find at your local natural foods market. If you cannot find refined coconut oil, use non-hydrogenated margarine or shortening.)
4 cups organic confectioners sugar
2 tablespoons water

Garnish (optional)
12 fresh raspberries
12 small mint leaves
½ cup raw cacao nibs or ground bittersweet chocolate

Preheat over to 350.
Sift or whisk together flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt into a bowl. In a separate bowl, mix the coconut milk, oil, vanilla, and vinegar. Combine the wet and dry mixtures and whisk until thoroughly mixed. Distribute batter into lined cupcake baking pan, and bake for 15-20 minutes.

Soaking Liquid
Combine amaretto and espresso powder and set aside.

Raspberry Sauce
In small saucepan, cook raspberries and agave on medium heat on raspberries wilt down. Let simmer on low for 5 minutes until the mixture becomes a pourable consistency. Remove pot from heat and mix in vanilla, lemon juice, cinnamon, and salt. Taste and adjust sweetness by adding more agave if necessary. Let cool in refrigerator.

Combine espresso powder, amaretto, and vanilla in small bowl and mix or swirl bowl until espresso powder has dissolved (about 1 minute). Beat coconut oil in large bowl with an electric mixer for about 1 minute, then add confectioner's sugar and espresso mixture. Add 1 tablespoon of water at a time until desired buttercream consistency is achieved. I usually beat on high for about 5 minutes, scraping down the sides with a spatula often. Pipe or frost with a knife.

Using a spoon, cut out a small hole from the top of each cupcake (scoop out about 1 tablespoon of cake) and discard. In the hole of the cupcake, layer approximately 1 teaspoon of soaking liquid, 1 tablespoon of raspberry sauce, 2 teaspoons of cacao, and piped frosting on top. Garnish with a raspberry and mint leaf. Enjoy!

Chloe and her assistant at the event standing in front of her winning display: