Monday, January 25, 2016

Friends Don't Let Friends: Build Bad Bagels

 These bagels are much beloved in our house. And, while I love a good Everything Bagel and always want to control the topping ratio (MORE!), I tend to not get in there and make them that often. 

It's not like they are difficult. I just am an immediate gratification kind of person and these do take time to rise and a few steps. But when I DO make them, they are great! The recipe is one from Family Fun magazine circa 2004. You never know were a great recipe might pop up.

1 1/2 Cups Warm Water
1pkt active dry yeast
4 Tbl Sugar
2 1/2 tsp Salt
3 1/2 - 3 3/4 C Flour

Prepare the Dough
Pour 1/4 C water into small bowl and sprinkle the yeast over it and stir to dissolve. Let it sit for 5 min.

Combine remaining 1 1/4 C water, the yeast/water, 3Tbl of sugar and then salt. Add 2C flour and stir by hand until well mixed (about 100 strokes)

Stir in remaining flour, about 1/4C at a time to make a dough that's firm enough to knead.

Turn out onto a floured surface and need about 10 min using as much flour as needed to keep the dough from sticking. Dough should be firm, supple and hold the imprint of your hand.

Transfer to an oiled bowl and coat the surface of the dough. Cover with plastic wrap and lit sit until doubled, about an hour.

When ready, punch the dough down, turn out onto a floured surface and knead 1 min. Divide dough into 8 equal pieces. Shape into balls, dust with flour and let rest 2 - 3 min.

Flatten and then make a center hole in each piece. Let sit covered about 10 min.

While dough is resting fill a larger stockpot with water and 1 Tbl sugar and bring to a boil. Heat over to 400 degrees.

After the bagels have rested for 10 min, drop in water 2 at a time and boil 30 seconds on each side. Then remove to a clean towel. After a minute transfer to a baking sheet with parchment. When all bagels are done with the boil, you can brush with oil and add toppings or bake.

Bake 22-25 min until golden.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Friends Don't Let Friends: Buy Bad Butter

I have to admit that I had two big food "fears" before we went vegan, now nearly 7 years ago.

And that fear was all around toast.

As my family can attest, I frigging love toast.  And not just toast, really anything warm and bread-y that likes to be slathered in butter and jam... or cinnamon sugar, or agave syrup, or salt, or... well, you get my point.  We're talking all kinds of toasted bread, bagels, crumpets, english muffins, scones.  Hell, I liked eating untoasted bread with butter and sugar and I've been known to scrape out of the butter container with a bunch of wheat thins.

I am not proud of this but there you go.

So, yes, toast (and baking of course) was heavily on my mind.  And thank goodness for EarthBalance in all of its varieties.  It's great.  It tastes great, melts perfectly and works amazingly in all of my baked goods.

But then there was the palm oil issue and we've been ever increasingly concerned about buying into that.  Plus, it's always good to have another option.

That's why I'm soooo happy to have bought our new favorite cookbook - The Homemade Vegan Pantry by Miyoko Schinner (of the awesome Miyoko's Kitchen and her famous cheeses - go buy some now!)

I've started working my way through her book because everything looks wonderful and easy to make.  Most use basic available ingredients (although for the butter I did order the liquid lecithin from Amazon.  You don't use a lot so one bottle or two will make a ton of this recipe).

Making this butter - the Glorious Butterless Butter - literally took me 5 minutes, a measuring cup and the blender. I added the soy milk, coconut oil, canola oil, salt and lecithin to the blender, blended it up and then poured it into a silicone mold we had.  A few hours later, it was ready to go!

 I was dying to dig into this but held off until breakfast the next day.  After chilling this was a perfect, crumbly butter. Not too salty with a delicious taste cold or melted, which it did perfectly.

I cannot recommend it enough.

Although you should just go out and buy this book asap (I know it's going to be a new staple, reached for constantly), here is the butter recipe:

Glorious Butterless Butter by Miyoko Schinner

1 1/2 C melted refined coconut oil
1/2 C non-dairy milk (I used soy for the neutral taste and fat content)
1/4 C canola, grapeseed or light olive oil (I used a fancy canola)
1/2 tsp sea salt
2 tsp liquid lecithin

Measure this all out, add it to the blender and process at medium speed for about a minute. Pour into any container (silicone is best I think, for popping it out easily) and then chill in the fridge until hard.

It will keep 3 - 4 weeks or several months in the freezer.

She also has variations for a cultured butter version, really hard butter for making stuff like puff pastry or croissants, whipped butter or unsalted butter.

It really is too pretty, right? Gah! I'm in love with it.

We also made one of her other condiments - homemade ketchup.  I did a hickory smoke-maple version but you are going to have to buy to book to get that recipe for yourself!

Saturday, May 23, 2015

A Cooking Course with Chef Jason - Plant Restaurant Asheville: Risotto and Wild Foods

One of our favorite restaurants in the country (if not our top pick thus far world-wide) is Plant in Asheville.  I am not kidding when I say the Chef Jason Sellers is a culinary master.  His cooking is pure witchcraft and he has to be one of the most innovative chefs around.

We are so lucky to be within driving distance of his genius and we have often made the 2+ hour drive each way to just have dinner at Plant.  We recommend this restaurant to anyone coming anywhere near the Asheville vicinity.  It's so good that the first time we ate dinner there, we called at 10am the next morning to see how soon we could get in again.  Not kidding.

So when we read that Plant was going to be doing intimate (5 or so people) cooking classes on Saturdays we quickly jumped online to schedule our sessions.

And Jason did not disappoint.

The class was for Risotto and Wild Foods.  I love cooking risotto and have posted here a few times about making risotto at home. But I loved the idea of learning from Jason, seeing behind the scenes, asking questions in a small setting and, of course, the lure of what wild foods would be featured was pretty great as well.

Asheville has a lot of wild foods from mushrooms to greens to herbs - the best foodie culture in the South, I think - so it could have been anything!

The restaurant is small which makes it perfect to learn and host a group of this size. Jason cooked and spoke right in front of us and made sure we saw every step of the way. His interaction with the 6 of us was continuous and everyone was interested and engaged.

I was happy to find out that my techniques and philosophies about cooking were something that Jason shared.  Pretty validating for an untrained but enthusiastic home "chef"!  Plus we share a love of salt varietals, so no one say you can ever have too much salt!

Jason showed us some restaurant tips and tricks, including how to pre-cook the risotto for finishing later, and created two separate dishes from the base recipe.

The first risotto was with a nettle pesto (recipe below) and then the addition of crimini and young chicken of the woods mushrooms, topped with sautéed wild watercress.

The second risotto received the addition of an oven-dried tomato confit and was then topped with an herb and black pepper crusted tofu, which was amazing.  It was seriously some of the best tofu ever.

These dishes were paired with two amazing wines and we left there inspired and eager to try out our new insights at home.   I can't speak for the other "students" but I love to make risotto and do a lot, but I usually keep it pretty simple.  I think risotto is an amazing dish on it's own.  But Jason really inspired us to do more with it, which is the mark of a chef that truly loves to cook.

Afterwards we headed over to the new location of French Broad Chocolate Lounge and capped off our day with a variety of chocolate delights - a slice of the Theros Olive Oil cake, gelato, vegan truffles and rose sipping chocolate.

It was a beautiful day in Asheville filled with amazing food!

Recipe for Risotto and Nettle Pesto
(serves 4 - 6)

Jason mentioned you can make risotto from a number of grains but worked with classic Arborio.  He mentioned a more hard to find rice, Vialone Nano, and now I'm eager to find and test that out.   He used their own, made in house stock as well.

1/4 olive oil (make sure it's not a blend, he used extra virgin)
1 1/2lbs short grain white rice (e.g. Arborio)
2 1/2 oz white onion (1 small), chopped small
3/4 C of wine, room temperature (pinot grigio used)
6 - 8 C stock, kept hot
2 tsp salt, to taste  - sea salt or kosher preferred

Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a large heavy bottom pot with a wide base and mouth. Add the rice and stir to coat each grain. Cook for 2 minutes.  Add the onion (and 1 grated clove of garlic if preferred) and cook for two minutes until the onions become somewhat translucent. Add the wine and cook until it is mostly absorbed. Begin adding the stock, one ladle (1/2C to 1C) at a time, until the rice is just covered by the liquid. Using a wooden spoon, stir the risotto until the liquid has dropped below the surface of the rice. Continue stirring and adding stock one ladle at a time until the risotto is thick, creamy/starchy, and chewy, and has lost any chalky crunch.

Add in pesto (or confit, etc.) and serve.

We learned you can, before all of the stock is added, take the risotto and cool it by putting it spread out on a baking sheet and then storing it overnight, covered in plastic wrap. You can then "finish" it by bringing it up to a heat again and adding in hot stock.  This will enable you to prep it somewhat in advance and then only need to cook it about 10 minutes, for a party or dinner, etc.

Nettle Pesto
(yield 1 1/2 cups)


2/3 C toasted hazelnuts, skins removed, finely chopped
1 C blanched nettles, dried (not dry), roughly chopped
1/2 tsp minced garlic
1/2 bunch flat leaf parsley
zest of one lemon
2 big pinches of salt
3 Tbl olive oil

Combine the hazelnuts, nettles, garlic, parsley, lemon zest and salt in a small mixing bowl. Add the olive oil and mix with a rubber spatula until uniform. Adjust lemon and salt to taste.

Tip: the lemon zest will help keep the pesto bright.  You can add lemon juice later before serving, to taste.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Recipe: Twice Baked Potatoes with Chao Cheese from Field Roast

We're total fans of the new Chao non-dairy cheeses from Field Roast.

We've had some great sandwiches already but last night took it up a bit by adding them to Twice Baked Potatoes.

2 very large russet potatoes, scrubbed, baked, and cooled
¼ cup unsweetened dairy-free milk alternative, plus more as needed
1 tablespoon Earth balance spread
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 cup of minced onion (red or sweet)
⅛ teaspoon sea salt or Himalayan pink salt, plus more as needed
¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
 Freshly ground pepper, to taste

Take cooled potatoes and slice off the top to make a canoe shape. Scoop out the insides and combine in a bowl with the other ingredients. Use this to fill the hollowed out potatoes, cover lightly with foil.
Bake at 375 for 20 min on a baking sheet.

Add slice of Chao on each potato and put under broiler until bubbly but not burnt.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Friends Don't Let Friends: Not Have a Trifle or Make Them Miss Gluten

Today we went to a fabulous event put on by The Purple Pig Project, which raises money to give to animal rescue groups and sanctuaries.   It was hosted by a member of the group who always outdoes herself with hospitality and everyone brings amazing, all vegan, dishes to share.

I decided to get a bit crazy in the kitchen last night and we made a bunch of things to share with the group.

The first thing I made were my favorite Chocolate-Chip Walnut Brownies.  I did add in some extra dark cocoa to the cocoa mix and they turned out just as awesome as always.  (The recipe is via VegNews May/June 2009, Issue 67 and the link above.)

But of course I have to test some new recipes, so I made a gluten-free cornbread (trying to work gluten-free recipes into the repertoire) and a Strawberry-blueberry Vanilla  English Trifle.

Yep, they turned out pretty awesome.

The cornbread recipe is from Babycakes' first cookbook and is a bit sweet with a soft crumb.  It calls for being made in a loaf pan.  I haven't tried the more traditional square pan. 

Babycakes Gluten-free Cornbread

  • 2/3 cup rice milk
  • 1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 3/4 cup Bob's Red Mill gluten-free all-purpose baking flour
  • 1/2 cup cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup corn flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. xanthan gum
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil , plus more for the pan
  • 1/3 cup agave nectar
  • 1/3 cup homemade applesauce or store-bought unsweetened unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 tsp. pure pure vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 325°F. Lightly grease a 7x4x3-inch loaf pan with oil. (Note: I did not oil the pan, I lined it with parchment instead.)

Pour the rice milk and apple cider vinegar into a small bowl, but do not stir; set aside to develop into "buttermilk." In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, corn flour, baking powder, baking soda, xanthan gum and salt. Add the oil, agave nectar, applesauce and vanilla to the dry ingredients. Stir the batter until well combined. Pour in the "buttermilk." Mix gently until the ingredients are fully incorporated and a slightly grainy batter is formed.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake the corn bread on the center rack for 32 minutes, rotating the pan 180 degrees after 20 minutes. The finished corn bread will bounce back slightly when pressed, and a toothpick inserted in the center will come out clean.

Let the corn bread stand in the pan for 20 minutes, then gently run a knife around the edge of the bread. Cover the top of the pan with a cutting board, and invert the loaf onto the board. (This last step is not needed if you line your pan.  I just pull it out via the paper.)
The English Trifle takes a few more steps as there are several components to it.  There's the cake, the whipped cream, pastry cream, lemon curd and the macerated berries.  You could leave some of the cream/curd components out but I'd at least do the berries, whipped cream and lemon curd, leaving out the pastry cream if you wish.   But all 3 does give you a delicious result. These recipes are from several sources so I will link as possible.

Here are the steps I took - The night before I, I made the following because they all need to cool/chill:
1. Lemon curd
2. Pastry creme
3. Cake - Victoria Sponge

The morning of, I :
1. Macerate the strawberries (save some just chopped to add on top along with blueberries, raspberries, etc., as you wish)
2. Make the whipped cream
3. Assemble

Lemon Curd

I love lemon curd and have made it a few ways.  The version I used here came from Bryanna Clark Grogan via her site - Vegan Feast Kitchen.

Some notes I would make about how I made this is, first I steamed the parsnips after cubing them.  This freed me up to do other work.  I would have let them drain a bit more than I did.  I also, if I'd had the time instead of making this the night before, would have run this through the VitaMix for an even smoother look.  I used 3 Meyer lemons and part of a standard lemon for the juice and the zest.  It turned out relish.

Pastry Cream

This pastry cream will be a great filling for eclairs and more.  I just loved it and it was super simple. 
This recipe was also from Bryanna Clark Grogan but it took a bit of sleuthing to track it down, since it seems to not be on her site.  I found it on VegSource.com. (not the prettiest site!) and it could not be simpler.  I did grind the cashews in my mini-processor before measuring but that's the only modification.  It was super easy to do and came together fast and was delicious. 

Victoria Sponge Cake

I've been wanting to try a recipe from one of my newest acquisitions - Ms. Cupcake: The Naughtiest Vegan Cakes in Town.  This cake was so easy and great, I can't wait to make more of her recipes.

One note: Unlike its US counterparts, Ms Cupcake’s recipe book uses metric as well as cup measurements. According to Ms Cupcake , if you’re having trouble baking with cups, it could be because you’re doing it wrong. If you’re measuring flour, you have to pour the flour into the cup - not scoop because that compacts the flour and you end up with the wrong amount.


3 Cups + 2 Tbsp self-rising flour
1 Cup + 3 Tbsp (caster) sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 2/3 Cups soy or rice milk (I used rice as that's what I had on hand)
2/3 Cup canola oil (or other flavorless oil)
2 Tbsp vanilla extract

Grease and flour 2 round 8", 9" or 10" cake tins (Note: I used 10" because I wanted a thinner cake to cut up and layer in the trifle bowl. I also lined the bottom of the pans with parchment.) and pre-heat oven to 350.

In a large bowl, mix the flour, sugar and baking powder together. Add the milk, oil and vanilla, stirring until just combined. Tap the bowl onto the work surface to stop the rising agents from working too quickly - you'll see any bubbles pop. Pour half the batter into each cake tin and tap the tins on the work surface to pop the bubbles again.

Bake for about 18 - 20 min or until a toothpick, inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Cool for 10 - 15 minutes in the tins and then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

Macerated Berries

No real recipe here. I took about 1 1/2 pounds of fresh strawberries, de-hulled them and cut them into quarters and then sprinkled with about 2 - 3 Tbsp of sugar and then the juice of 1 lemon. Stir and let sit in the refrigerator until you are ready to assemble, at least 30 min.

Whipped Cream

I always keep about 2 cans of coconut milk in the refrigerator so I have it on hand for easy whipped cream. Let it sit and don't shake it at all! Scoop the solid coconut fat from the top of the cans of coconut milk into a bowl that has been in the freezer for at least an hour (I also keep my whisk attachment in the freezer too). Do not get any of the liquid into the solids, leave some of the solids in the can if you have to.

Whisk the solids briefly until it fluffs up and then add powdered sugar and vanilla extract to taste.

For this trifle, I would use about 4 cans worth of the coconut milk solids to ensure you have enough to cover 3 layers.


I cut the two cakes into squares and then layered it into the bowl in the following order:
1. Cake
2. Whipped Cream
3. Macerated berries and fresh blueberries/raspberries
4. Lemon Curd
5. Pastry Cream
6. Cake
7. Whipped Cream
8. Macerated berries and fresh blueberries/raspberries
9. Lemon Curd
10. Pastry Cream
11. Cake
12. Whipped Cream
13. Fresh chopped berries

Dig in!


We roasted our sweet potatoes for a bit longer than noted and added in some rice vinegar to taste for the dressing.

I traveled well and was delicious room temperature.  I think we need to make it again to have it more warm.

All in all, we ate a ton and are stuffed!  Our gatherings are good for the spirit but dangerous for my waistline!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Semi-Homemade Crap

Your friends, Pinterest, and FoodNetwork are trying to kill you.

There is a trend in cooking called "semi-homemade". Not originated by, but made popular by Sandra Lee, I use the word cooking in a very loose way, because I would, in no way, consider this cooking... it's basically where you dump a bunch of packaged food stuffs (not food) into a pot or crockpot or oven and then say you've "made" something.

Sure you opened a can, ripped open a box or package and gave it a stir but you did not cook.

I know why these so-called recipes are shared on Facebook and Pinterest and via email so often these days.  You can go to the store, grab some stuff off the shelves, use a bunch of coupons and feel you've actually made some real food for the people you like and love.

 Sorry to say it... but you didn't.

Acutally, you've done them more harm than good.  These recipes aren't good.  They aren't fun and they certainly aren't healthy.  They're not even a step above any fast food place.

The image below is the one that set me off today.  A "Croc-Pot Hot Chocolate" which consists of:

Use two bags of chopped up Ande's mints chips, one bottle of Rum Chata, two small cans of sweetened condensed milk, one small carton of heavy whipping cream, and 4 cups of milk! Double to make a large pot. Just mix everything together, set on high for 2 hours stirring occasionally and then enjoy.

Yep.  Flavored baking chips, alcohol, sweetened condensed milk AND heavy cream AND milk.

Did the math on this one, even using skim milk, 1 6oz serving (less than 1 cup) is about 500 cal, 24g of fat (18 of which is saturated) and 44g of cholesterol. One small serving is about 1/3 of your daily calories and almost all of a day's fat target.

Pinterest is a great source of inspiration but be wise and don't fall of the trap of "easy".  Instead focus on whole and healthy.

Monday, August 26, 2013

When One Door Closes...

When you live with a number of animals, you know that there will be many times of sadness over your life.

On August 18th, our little birdie passed away.

We knew when she came to us just under 3 years ago that she was an older bird and had not had the best care. We tried to make her healthy and happy as much as we could. She had some health issues as time went on but we hope she was happy with us. She wasn't a snuggly bird but she was always interested and chirpy.

We already miss her and the house will be too quiet without her.

But this past weekend, we learned about another bird girl in need of a home, so I drove to go bring her to us out of animal control.

It was a few hours drive round-trip but we were happy to be able to have Pepper come and live with us.

She's still adjusting but things are going well.  Jake has been protective of her, as he was with Maple last year.  We think she is pretty young because she's very quiet but makes sweet little peeps and chirps.

We hope she will be happy in her new home and enjoy spending time with the other girls and Jake and us.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

5 Year Vegan-versary

So over the weekend, on Saturday July 13th in fact, we celebrated our 5th Vegan-versary.

 To mock/quote a friend I'll say, we have been 5 years "on a bandwagon", now that is a long bandwagon.

5 years since we stopped eating meat, and any other animal product soon after... It is too simple a thing to say our lives changed. And was all thank to a tenacious little rooster named Napoleon. He put his life on the line, literally, to protect his girls.  And with his life in peril, it woke us up to the fact that THERE IS NO DIFFERENCE between those animals we eat and those we love, we have just culturally made up reasons to make our guilt feel lessened.

 If you are interested in saving your life and not being a victim of a food system that has been bought out years before you were born, if you are sick of being and sick and tired of being tired then a plant-based whole foods way of life is for you. Don't buy into fad diets of no-carbs or "caveman" eating, what veganism offers is an approach to food, and all consumables, that massively lessens your impact on the world, while providing a framework for healthy living.

It is affordable, unlike some propaganda would have you believe. Veganism as a cultural movement was named around since the 1940s but, of course, this concept is not even that new - heck, even Socrates is quoted is advocating against eating animals. And evidence shows people knew the dangers of certain foods that are bad for us centuries before that, e.g. meat and dairy.

It doesn't matter if you are a young, old, pregnant or have a debilitating disease - whole foods, plant based is the way to go.

And if you want to see a sweet, although fuzzy, video of when Napoleon was reunited with his girls after healing for over a month, check out our video.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Being Plant Strong

I think Rip Esselstyn is great!

If his Dad isn't convincing you with science and research (aka Forks Over Knives and The China Study), then manly athlete and fire fighter Rip is going to show you the results in a practical way.

I really want to get our local fire station onto his Engine 2 diet. I think they would feel so much better for it!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Sunday Night Test Kitchen: Hot Toddy Cake

A new favorite website - Maple Spice - inspired me to make this cake.

It's a Hot Toddy cake and it combines cloves, lemon and whiskey. Irish whiskey, of course, as she's in Ireland.

I used almond milk instead of rice milk and used the Wilton frosting (with lemon extract instead of vanilla) instead.  It turned out delicious and very pretty with the lemons and yellow frosting.

I can't wait to try out more of her recipes. They all look so delicious!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Sunday Night Test Kitchen

I've done this in the past but now I'm back at it.

 What am I talking about? I've reinstated Sunday Night Test Kitchen.
 I get to try out a new recipe each week and have our friends eat it all up and give feedback.

 In the past few weeks, we've made...

Chocolate Layer Cake with Chocolate Hazelnut Filling and Cocoa Frosting

Homemade Ladyfingers for Tiramisu


Mini Almond Pound Cakes with Vanilla Bean Whipped Cream and Fresh Strawberries

Rustic Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

It's all vegan and all delicious. Who says you can't eat amazing vegan baked goods. Baking with out eggs or dairy is soooo easy!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Friends Don't Let Friends: Not Celebrate St. Patrick's Day

Over the past several weeks, the husband and I have been getting together at another couple's house, along with another couple and all our dogs(!!!), for Sunday night dinner, games and The Walking Dead.

Yesterday, being St. Patrick's day, we decided to get all festive and do a full Irish dinner... veganized of course!

Everyone in the group cooks so we've had some great meals - enchiladas, tacos, lasagna, many many varieties of homemade pizza, chili, and more. Last night we had a corned beef-style seitan (made from scratch), colcannon made with kale, red cabbage and apples and Irish soda bread. Everything was amazing!

 I've also used these dinners to bring back what I call "Sunday Night Test Kitchen". I try to make a new recipe each time and we've had tiramisu, chocolate cheesecake, coconut cake and, of course, cupcakes.

Last night's dessert, to be festive, were Chocolate Stout Cupcakes with Irish Whiskey Buttercream Frosting, modified from Chef Chloe's new book.


Chocolate Beer Cupcakes

  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour (or gluten-free all-purpose flour plus ¾ teaspoon xanthan gum)
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup stout beer (I used Guinness Extra Stout, which is vegan)
  • ½ cup canola oil
  • 2 tablespoons white or apple cider vinegar (I used white)
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

Irish Whiskey Buttercream (note, I made my regular frosting and did not add milk)

  • 1 cup non-hydrogenated shortening (I use Spectrum Organics)
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 to 5 tablespoons soy, almond, or rice milk
  • 3 to 4 teaspoons Irish whiskey


  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • ¼ cup vegan margarine
  • 4 teaspoons soy, almond, or rice milk

I opted to ditch the caramel and instead do a festive green ombre frosting with green jimmies.

Here's the process:


To make the Chocolate Beer Cupcakes

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 (12-cup) cupcake pans with 14 cupcake liners. Note, I got 16 cupcakes out of this recipe. 
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, brown sugar, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together stout, oil, vinegar, and vanilla. Pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture and whisk until just combined. Do not over mix.
Fill the cupcake liners about two-thirds full with batter. Bake for 16 to 18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cupcake comes out clean with a few crumbs clinging to it. Cool the cupcakes completely before frosting.

To make the Irish Whiskey Buttercream

Using a handheld or stand mixer, beat the shortening until smooth. With the mixer running on low, add powdered sugar, vanilla, and 1 tablespoon nondairy milk at a time, as needed, until frosting reaches a spreadable consistency. You may not need to use all of the nondairy milk. Add whiskey, 1 teaspoon at a time, until desired taste. Beat on high for 2 more minutes until light and fluffy.

To make the Caramel

In a small saucepan, over medium heat, heat brown sugar, margarine, and nondairy milk, stirring frequently.  Once mixture comes together, increase heat to medium-high and let cook for one to two more minutes, until it begins to boil and the bubbles move into the center of the caramel. Remove from heat.
To assemble the cupcakes: Frost cooled cupcakes with buttercream and dust with cocoa powder. Drizzle warm caramel over cupcakes using a fork or a squeeze tube. Caramel will be easier to work with while warm.
If you want the ombre frosting, I use gel food coloring and then paint 4 stripes of it in my piping bag before putting in the frosting.  When it comes out, it's swirled!

I hope you enjoyed some craic and... 
Lá Fhéile Pádraig Sona Daoibh

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Addictive Foods

I am just starting to read this article, The Extraordinary Science of Addictive Junk Food, and I'm already nodding my head in agreement.

I wish people would take the time to really look at what they are eating.  If you are buying it out, what you are liking and craving is created.  Not through culinary skills but through a combination of, often man-made, chemicals.

The best thing to do is go to independent, local restaurants or make your own.  And read Fast Food Nation!