Vegan coffee cake

I have really good news for everyone. You can thank little vegan planet for finding this one. Trader Joe’s started stocking a few cake mixes and whenever I see something new on the shelves I check to see if it’s vegan. I picked a box of vanilla cake and it was definitely not vegan so I didn’t bother checking the rest. Turns out, the coffee cake is vegan. I don’t usually make boxed baked goods, but hey, who doesn’t like an easy dessert every once and awhile.

So I followed the directions on the box using almond milk and Earth Balance instead of milk & butter. Threw in a teaspoon of egg replacer and 2 tablespoons of water. Did some stiring and some crumbling. Forty minutes later we had a delicious coffee cake.

So go make some freaking coffee cake already. It’s easy, it tastes good. It’s vegan. Yay!

Italian Eggplant Pasta

Half way through today I realized that it’s my veganniversary. I’ve been vegan for 5 years now. I’m pretty excited about it. I’m looking forward to a time when I’ve been vegan longer than not.

I thought I’d share this little recipe that I made the other night. It’s inspired by eggplant cacciatore, but there aren’t any bell peppers. So I’m not sure what to call it, but it’s delicious and you should make it. Maybe I’ll call it Super Yummy Eggplant Pasta Thing. What do you think?

Anyway, here’s the recipe, maybe you can come up with a name.

Super Yummy Eggplant Pasta Thing

  • 1 eggplant, chopped into bite size cubes
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 1/2 small head of garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1 26 oz jar of marinara sauce
  • pasta of your choice
  • olive oil

Begin with the eggplant by salting the pieces and letting them sweat while you prepare the other ingredients.

Put on a large pot of salted water to boil for your pasta. Cook according to the instructions for your particular pasta. I only recommend doing this first since I made an entire package of penne and the water took forever to boil on my spare burner.

Heat about 1 Tbsp of olive oil in a large sauce pan over medium heat. Once the oil has warmed, add in the onion. Saute until it has softened. Add in the garlic and stir until it becomes fragrant.

Add the marinara and spices into the pan, stiring together. Reduce heat and let simmer. A note here, my marinara had basil already in it, but if yours doesn’t you may want to add 1/2 tsp.

Rinse your eggplant of salt and dry. It doesn’t have to be bone dry, just get most of the water droplets off.

While the sauce is simmering, in another pan, heat some more oil and add in the eggplant. Saute until the eggplant is slightly browned and softened.

Combine the sauce and the eggplant in whichever has the larger pan. Continue to simmer for about 10 minutes. That’s it!

You can either mix with all the pasta or serve as a chunky sauce on top.

tempeh pot pie

I accomplished a major goal this past week, I managed to completely fill my dutch oven with food.  I’ve made recipes that I thought would be huge but only filled the dish half way. This time, it was overflowing. I made a double batch of the tempeh shepherdess pie from Veganomicon. I knew it would be a lot, but the 6 pounds of potatoes really took it over the top.

It lasted us about two days, shared between Shawn, his brother and myself for lunch and dinner. It was hearty and filling and satisfying. The recipe was filled with good stuff but I think next time I’d like the seasonings to be a little more intense.

innards of a shepherds pie

With cooler weather coming (hopefully soon) I hope to make more casseroles. I loved the corn in this, and would maybe like to try something spicier, maybe with chipotle peppers. Yeah, that sounds good.

vegan shepherds pie

Do you have a favorite casserole?

Vegan Engagement Party

It’s been a crazy weekend. The Brainwashed Love screening was Friday. It was such an amazing experience. The theater was packed and we got such good responses from everyone. So exciting! More about that later though…

Since most of Shawn’s family lives out of state, we thought we’d make the weekend a double feature and have our engagement party on Saturday night. Oh the joy of throwing a bunch of people who don’t know each other together in a room over food. Not to mention, hoping that the vegan meal you serve a bunch of non-vegans will convince them that the wedding food is going to be awesome as well.

Luckily, we had a secret weapon…Madeleine Bistro. We chose the most gourmet of vegan restaurants in Los Angeles as the venue for our dinner. It was outstanding and everyone was more than impressed.

engagement party

We started with a selection of appetizers. I tried them all. They all were awesome. They included the mini mac, farmers cheese and caramelized onions in filo, pesto pizza and smoked farmers cheese on crostini. Oh man.

I just realized how hard to write this post is going to be. This food was so good. I’m salivating.

Each was a perfect little burst of flavor and taste of what was to come. I was particularly impressed with the farmers cheese, which was smoky, rich and left me wanting more and more.

engagement party

I think the big hit of the bunch was the mini mac. A cute, bite sized burger with all the flavors of the full size version.

engagement party

The next course was a french onion soup. One of my favorite soups that it so hard to find vegan. I loved the thick bread soaked in the savory soup.

engagement party

We were lucky to have gorgeous flower arrangements made by Shawn’s uncle, Gordon. He showed up to the restaurant and surprised us by decorating the tables with these lovely flowers and candle before we arrived. It looked amazing and really made the dinner just that much more special.

engagement party

On to the next course. We had a choice of either the red beet tartare or a ceasar salad for our guests. Both Shawn and I had the red beet tartare. I can’t believe I haven’t ordered this off the menu before. It was SO good. The beets were sweet,  magically creamy and perfectly matched with the crispy croquette. Even the oil and vinegar drizzle on the plate was superb.

engagement party

But wait…there’s more! For the next course, we again had a choice of two items. Shawn ordered the chicken fried seitan with rustic mashed potatoes, pan gravy and vegetable medley. I’m pretty sure Madeleine bistro makes the best seitan ever. Especially the chicken fried seitan. It’s simultaneously crunchy and moist. It’s like the perfect southern meal, made vegan.

engagement party

I went for something new to me, the grilled lemon rosemary seitan with a savory crepe and black kale. Again, the seitan was fantastic. It had a light sauce and was so juicy. The crepe was mind blowing. I’m not even kidding. Filled with asparagus and a sort of cheesy filling, it was unlike anything I’ve tried anywhere else.

engagement party

Finally on to dessert. I was so full at this point (but pleasantly full, mind you). Shawn had the cheesecake.

engagement party

I went for the brownie sundae. It was everything I could have dreamed for in a dessert. Chewy, chocolately brownie with sweet ice cream and a decadent fudge sauce and a touch of fruit sauce. Loved it. So much.

engagement party

We made it! Stuffed and happy and families introduced! Success!

It was really a special night for us and I’m so glad that we were able to impress our guests with such wonderful food. A few family members admitted that they had backup plans if they didn’t like the ominous vegan food, but in the same breath told us they loved everything they had. I love being able to show people that vegan food can really be wonderful and delicious and break through any misgivings they might have.

Thank you cakes

Sometimes you need to say thank you. For the times that people go way out of their way to help you. Or when someone works endlessly on a project. Sometimes you need more than a card or an email.

That’s where these little cakes come in. Because nearly everyone loves a cake just for them.

I wanted them to be a little more than just a cake though; to really communicate the message. Rather than just the typical butter cream writing on top, I thought I’d try something a little more fun.

I made some simple, colorful bunting for a coconut cake for Shawn. He’s been working endlessly putting the finishing touches on Brainwashed Love and I thought he needed a little reward. The bunting was perfect because it allowed me to completely cover the cake with coconut, which I’ve learned, makes the cake difficult to decorate on top.

For the second cake, I tried my hand at creating a fondant covered red velvet cake. I’ve used fondant for flowers and such but had not yet covered a complete cake. I sure did need a lot of muscle power to roll it out but I’m pretty pleased with how it turned out, considering the horror stories I’ve heard. It wasn’t perfect, but still adorable. I stenciled on the thank you, using just plain paper that I cut with an exacto and some yellow food coloring.

I did a test of my stencil on another piece of fondant, just to make sure. It turned out  perfectly, but caused my actual cake to look a little blobby. Still a success though, I think.