Oct 31, 2009

Chocolate Cupcakes with Carrot Vanilla Frosting

This is my ULTIMATE chocolate cake recipe, which I used for making some cute Halloween cupcakes tonight. Every year, we go all out and set up our "haunted" entryway with our special effect DJ lights, jack-o-lanterns, and this year- an old TV set playing a variety of horror clips. We also set up our huge 6' X 9' projection screen and showed movies for the neighbors. This year, we were double-booked as well, and between decorating, making food, and organizing the gigs, it was non-stop and I am SO dead right now... but hey- it's for my favorite holiday!

Our featured films this year were Coraline and Monsters Vs. Aliens. Our neighbors from across the street get out their lawn chairs every year and camp out on their driveway for the viewing. The weather was perfect this year, so we had a good crowd of neighborhood kids camp out too.

Why is it that I always wish I had more time to carve pumpkins? ...My favorite part of Halloween!

A spider cupcake (made with cookie legs)

To make orange frosting, I used carrots which worked out really well. I didn't want it to taste like carrots, but I did want it to just have enough to make it orange. I think you could add even more if you wanted.

I also used this recipe to make a decadent birthday cake for my best friend.

Chocolate Cake (makes 2- 9" rounds or about 2 dozen cupcakes)

Dry Ingredients:

3 C. all purpose flour
1 T. baking soda
3/4 C. cocoa powder
1 tsp. salt

Wet Ingredients:

2 C. soy milk
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2/3 C. vegetable oil
2 C. unrefined sugar
2 T. apple cider vinegar


Mix together dry ingredients and set aside. Mix wet ingredients, then blend with dry ingredients until smooth. pour batter into prepared pans of choice and bake at 350 degrees. For cake rounds bake for 20-25 minutes. For cupcakes 12-15 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool before frosting.
Carrot Vanilla Frosting


1/2 C. cooked carrots
1/2 C. Earth Balance Buttery Sticks (room temp)
2 C. powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract


Cook the carrots (I microwaved mine in a covered bowl with a little water for 3 minutes on high). Drain all excess water and let cool. Put the carrots and the remaining ingredients into a food processor and blend until smooth.

Oct 23, 2009

Chili Corn Bread Casserole

This thick, flavorful chili was easy to make and it was a good excuse to use another habanero pepper... too bad I could only use one. If you like 5-alarm chili, feel free to throw in another. This one caused a nice mouth fire, but didn't linger long enough to make you sweat too much (or cry).

With the sweet cornbread cooked right on top, this dish was able to feed a small happy army. If you're only feeding 4-5, you might want to halve the recipe. I personally like having leftovers!


Into the food processor (or blender)-
1 habanero pepper
2 sweet bell peppers (about 1.5 cups)
1 12-oz. can tomato paste
1/2 of a 28-oz. can fire roasted tomatoes (I used diced)
2 T. cocoa powder
1 T. smoked paprika
1/2 tsp. ground cumin

Into a large pot-
thin layer of olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 of a 28-oz. can fire roasted tomatoes (same as above)
1 15-oz. can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1/3 C. nutritional yeast
1/2 C. TVP (textured veg protein)
2-3 T. brown sugar
1/2 C. water
salt to taste


Blend top ingredients until smooth, set aside. Heat oil in the pot, and cook onions and carrots until onions are translucent and carrots are tender. Stir in garlic and cook for another minute or two. Add the blended ingredients and the other half of the canned tomatoes, as well as the rest of the ingredients. Stir until heated through- should be nice and thick. Pour into a 9 X 13" casserole dish.

Corn Bread:

This was slightly changed from the PPK recipe. It's sweeter and a little less dense, and really complements the spicy chili.

2 C. soy milk
2 tsp. apple cider vinegar
1/4 C. maple syrup
1/3 C. vegetable oil

2 C. cornmeal
1 C. all purpose flour
1 T. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt

Mix the wet ingredients and set aside. Mix the dry, then pour the wet into the dry. Mix until just incorporated.

Pour cornbread batter over the chili, and spread until event. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes until toothpick comes out clean.

Oct 22, 2009

Chocolate Covered Pomegranate

I'm adding pomegranate to the long list of things that are good covered in chocolate. After receiving a case full of them from Dad's tree, I decided to juice them, and save some (ok, a lot) to make chocolates. They're very easy to make. The hard part is getting the seeds out without pom juice squirting in your face. But once you got the hang of that, easier than pie!

Just place 3 or 4 cups of the seeds (called arils) on a towel to make sure they're dry on the outside. Melt chocolate in a double boiler (I used a bag of semi-sweet vegan chocolate chips), fold in the seeds and place spoonfuls onto parchment paper to cool. Put them in the fridge or freezer until hardened, and enjoy!

When you bite into them, you get a burst of the tart pomegranate juice mixed with the rich sweet dark chocolate. SO GOOD!

Oct 15, 2009

Jerk Tofu & Pineapple Fried Rice

After two weeks of the flu, I'm ready to do more in the kitchen than retrieve instant soup from the microwave. And since it's getting colder- less than 80 degrees (yeah, California's a biotch), I thought I'd make something that'll warm you up!

Our habanero peppers are in peak ripeness, and what better way to use them than in a dish that invokes thoughts of warm breezes and sand between your toes? Ok, not much of a stretch since I'm in Cali, but not everyone here lives near the beach! Really!

Anyway... the jerk tofu is rather spicy, so if you want to tone it down, use less habanero.

Jerk Tofu

14oz. block of frozen tofu, thawed (you can do 2 packages, but there won't be a lot of sauce left over)
1 C. orange juice
juice of 1 lime (about 2 tablespoons)
2 T. soy sauce
2 T. olive oil
2 T. brown sugar
2 cloves of garlic
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1/4 tsp. ground allspice
1 tsp. fresh minced ginger
1/3 C. nutritional yeast
2 T. balsamic vinegar (I used a blackberry ginger flavored vinegar, which was a gift- Thanks, Annie!)
1/2 C. chopped green onions
pinch of ground black pepper
1 habanero pepper
all-purpose flour for dredging

Drain and gently squeeze out as much water from the thawed tofu. Slice into 1/2" pieces and place onto a towel to further drain. Throw all other ingredients into a food processor or blender and blend until smooth. Be careful with handling the habanero- don't get any juice on your hands! Marinate the tofu for about an hour. Scrape off excess marinade and lightly coat with flour. Fry in a little oil in a skillet until both sides are golden and crispy. Save the marinade and heat until thick and bubbly. You can use this to drizzle onto your tofu as a sauce.

Pineapple Fried Rice

Olive oil (or other veg oil)
Rice (amount of choice)
Vegetable Broth (low sodium)
Chopped pineapple
Green onions, chopped
Garlic, minced
Cilantro, chopped
Soy sauce

Theres no measuring here- go on taste and instinct! Steam your rice with the vegetable broth instead of water. If you have leftover rice from take-out, you can use that, but add a veg bouillon cube to your skillet before adding the rice (low sodium or unsalted preferred). Put the pineapple in a towel and squeeze out all of the juice (you want it to be dry so the moisture doesn't turn your rice into mush). Heat the oil in your wok or large skillet until hot. There should be enough oil to coat all the herbs and to slightly coat your rice. Add the onions, garlic, cilantro, and pineapple and stir fry for a few minutes. Add your rice, add soy sauce and salt to taste, and mix well. Be careful not to burn the bottom.

Serve with fried plantains and greens.