The Most Unhealthy Thing I’ve Ever Made (aka Nate Cake)

One of Queenie’s friends, Nate, recently celebrated a birthday, and I attempted to make him the cake of his dreams in honor of the day.  Yes, his dream cake.  Some months ago, our families sat around a table, wistfully discussing some of the most delicious things we’d ever eaten and dreaming up the most delicious things we could imagine eating.  During this discussion, Nate declared that the ultimate cake would contain the following:  a layer of Twinkies, a layer of frosting, a brownie layer, a layer of whipped cream, and a drizzle of chocolate sauce.

My stomach turns slightly just typing that, but we decided that if that’s what he wants, that’s what he’s going to get, veganized of course!

The first layer presented the first challenge because Twinkies are definitely not vegan.  Like most (if not all) of the Hostess snack line, they contain beef fat (or tallow), so we were going to have to find or make a vegan version.  Thankfully, our fabulous local vegan grocery store, Vegan Haven, carries Dillos, and they had enough in stock to create Nate’s first dream layer.  In case you’re not fortunate enough to live near Vegan Haven, here’s a link to help you track them down:

Next up, I made the classic vanilla buttercream frosting from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero and put it in the ‘fridge while I got things ready.  You should own this book, but if you don’t, here’s the recipe:

Next up, I made the brownie recipe from Chloe Coscarelli’s Chloe’s Vegan Desserts, and it turned out great.  Because it was larger than the amount of space that would be taken up by the “Twinkie” layer, I had to do a little figuring and cutting to make it just right.


First I just sat the wrapped Dillos on top of the brownies to eyeball what I’d need to do.  Next, I spread a layer of the frosting on a cake pan, figuring that this would not only be tasty (more frosting!), but it would also serve to anchor the Dillos.


Once I placed the Dillos on the frosting, that gave me the dimensions of the cake and what size to trim the brownie layer.  Measuring happened.


The next step was to thoroughly frost the Dillo layer, including all of the cracks and crevices.  Frosting, frosting and more frosting.


I placed the brownie layer atop the frosted Dillos very carefully…


… and frosted the sides of the brownie layer to make it seem like one cohesive cake.  I left the top unfrosted because it gets a different treatment (but it would also work to frost the whole thing).


I left the cake like this until right before serving, at which point I topped it with whipped cream, which needed to stay cold until we were ready to serve.  Specifically, I used So Delicious Coco Whip, which I had never used before.  Oh my – love it!  Light, fluffy, divine.  I bought it frozen at Vegan Haven and then thawed it in the refrigerator, where it sat until its big moment.  Here’s some info about it:

Once I’d spread a nice, thick layer of the Coco Whip on top of the brownie, I drizzled chocolate sauce (Santa Cruz Organic Chocolate Syrup) on top.


I honestly only thought that Nate and Queenie would dare to try this messy creation, but all of the adults, myself included, dug in as well.  It was surprisingly tasty and unsurprisingly nausea-inducing!  That’s a whole lot of sugar for my constitution.  But the guest of honor was happy, so I put this in the win column!  If you have a sugar fiend in your midst, he or she might just like it, too.


Enjoy!  xo

Battle of the Breakfast Tacos

In one corner, we have the “Diner Breakfast Tacos” from Eat Like You Give a Damn by Michelle Schwegmann and Josh Hooten; and in the other corner, we have the “Supreme Bacon, Scramble and Cheese Tacos” from The Taco Cleanse by Wes Allison, Stephanie Bogdanich, Molly R. Frisinger and Jessica Morris.  Who will be named the champ?  Let’s find out…

The Diner Breakfast Tacos come out swinging with a delicious single-pan taco filling concoction comprised of potatoes, onion, vegan sausage, tofu, spinach and spices.  It comes together beautifully.  Quite swoon-worthy.

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But the secret weapon of this taco is baking the tortillas with some cheese shreds before filling.  Oh yeah, that’s what I’m talking about.

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Put these together, and it’s quite a one-two punch.  The recipe calls for adding salsa, sour cream and/or avocado, all of which would be fun but none of which are necessary.  These tacos are delightful as is.

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And what does the Supreme Bacon, Scramble and Cheese Taco have up its sleeve?  While the tacos above are light and nimble on their feet, happy to spar and trade jabs, these Supreme Tacos are big, heavy sluggers.  Three different components come together in a corn tortilla, and it’s quite a feast.  First, there’s tasty tempeh bacon cubes with a perfectly balanced, scrumptious mix of flavors.


Next comes a deliciously flavored tofu “scramble” that goes heavy on the nutritional yeast (yum!).  The word scramble is in quotes because this is a baked tofu treatment, and while the authors call it a scramble, it’s certainly not a traditional one.  It is, however, wonderful and quite simple to prepare.


The final filling element for this taco is a cheese sauce.  There are recipes for home-made sauces in the book, and I bet they’re great, but I used the Heidi Ho Organics Creamy Chia Cheeze, which never disappoints and takes two seconds to heat up.


Put all of that together and you’ve got a knockout punch of taste and texture.


So who gets the trophy?  I’ve conferred with the judges and it’s… a TIE!  These are both insanely good tacos that will make you happy at any time of day (breakfast tacos for dinner has become quite popular around here).  While they are very different, they are both perfect.  It simply comes down to what you’re in the mood for.

I recommend picking up both books (every recipe I’ve made from both of them has been excellent), but if you google these specific recipes, you’ll find them reprinted in something that seems to be called google books.  I am not familiar with this platform and don’t know if it’s done with author permission, so I’m not linking here, but it’s easily located if you’re so inclined.  But again, BUY THESE BOOKS!

Enjoy!  xo

Chickenless Noodle Soup

This recipe is called “No-Bird Noodle Soup” in the book from which it hails, Eat Like You Give a Damn:  Recipes for the New Ethical Vegan by Michelle Schwegmann and Josh Hooten.  Before we get into the recipe that I’m featuring today, I must spend a few moments telling you how FANTASTIC this cookbook is!!!  Seriously fantastic.  Must-end-up-in-your-collection fantastic.

The authors are the creators of the Herbivore clothing line and the owners and proprietors of the Herbivore shop in Portland, Oregon.  If you’re ever in Portland, you’ll be happy if you make a point of visiting their store, which is full of their creations, as well as other snazzy vegan finds such as bags, belts, wallets, jewelry and quite possibly the most comprehensive vegan cookbook selection on the planet.  Luckily for you, you can also visit them online:

On a recent visit to Portland, I picked up the Eat Like You Give a Damn book at the store and I am thrilled that I did.  I have now made eight recipes from the book, and all eight are spectacular.  Not just pretty good, GREAT!  That’s an abnormally high ratio of awesome.  To make your mouth water, I will tell you that I’ve made the Brussels Sprouts Slaw with Walnuts, Apricots, and Garlic Aioli; the Smoky Cauliflower Soup with Fennel, Carrot, and Potato; the Herbivore Chili (that is so good my daughter, who doesn’t really like chili, had two bowls for dinner and then asked for it in her lunch the next day); the Savory Chickpea Pancakes; the Curry-Barbecue Soy Curls Bowl; the Classic Skillet Cornbread; and the Don’t-Be-Blue Cheese Dressing.

And, of course, the No-Bird Noodle Soup that I want to share with you today.  The flavors in this recipe come together to create a wholly satisfying bowl of deliciousness, one that is very reminiscent of my (somewhat distant) memories of what chicken noodle soup is supposed to taste like.  All I know for sure is that I loved it and my family happily slurped it up.  Let me walk you through the components, and there’s a link with specifics at the bottom…

Standing in for the chicken chunks are some tasty, happy, cruelty-free tofu chunks that have been sizzled with nutritional yeast and tamari.


Next you’ll be creating the comforting soup base, with its herbed broth and chunks of carrots, celery and onion.  To this, you will add angel hair or spaghetti.



The last step is to add in the tofu cubes and any nice brown bits from the pan, and you will end up with a delicious bowl of soup that resembles this:


I found the recipe at this blog, which seems to be authorized (the blog’s author received an advance copy to review), so I’m sharing it here.  But PLEASE, run don’t walk to your nearest bookstore and get this book!  I guarantee you won’t regret it.

Tofu ‘Chicken’ Noodle Soup

Enjoy!  xo

Scrambled Tortillas

If you’re looking for a hearty dish to make on a wintry weekend, look no further than this one, which hails from Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s terrific book, Vegan Brunch.  It’s not the most photogenic dish (as the author notes, it “might not photograph well but is darn hard to stop eating”), but don’t hold that against it.  It’s somewhat unique and super tasty.  Try it – you’ll see!

First, you steam corn tortillas and then fry them up in a pan with onions and jalapeno.


Then you add soft tofu to the mix until everything’s coated.


Meanwhile, you will be doing two things.  First, steaming sliced potatoes:


Second, making a quick sauce that is basically seasoned tomato sauce (featuring garlic, cumin, oregano and chili powder):


At this point, the tortilla mixture should be getting nice browned bits.  (Be sure to use a very thin spatula so that you don’t lose this yumminess on the bottom of your pan).  While the outside of the tortillas is browning, rest assured that the inside is tender and scrumptious.


The final step is to fold the steamed potatoes into the tortillas.  Once they are mixed, dish it out and top with the sauce and anything else you’d like (guacamole and vegan sour cream come to mind).


Enjoy!  xo


Seriously Great Tofu Scramble

I love tofu scrambles.  I make a lot of different scrambles with a lot of different vibes and I enjoy them all.  If I had to crown the King of All Scrambles, though, that prize might have to go to this one.  It’s a heavy duty, seriously filling, decadent sort of scramble that feels just right on a lazy, cozy weekend morning.  I came upon it via the Hot Knives guys, and their link provides a full demonstration so I won’t replicate that here.  I will say that the one tweak I made was adding just a smidge of black salt (aka Kala Namak) during the seasoning sessions.  Not vital but mighty nice (and eggy).  And I will also say that the technique of letting the scramble sit for a bit leads to heavenly browned bits, a technique that should be used every time you make a scramble.  Final thought:  you can use this recipe as a base and just add whatever ingredients you are craving at the time.  The sausage definitely makes it a lot heavier, so when you’re not feeling it, just leave it out.  Or put in more veggies.  Or… no rules!

Here’s the link:

And here’s a quick pic of my scramble in process.  Look at those browned bits!!!


Yum.  Enjoy!  xo

Zucchini Pizza Bites

You can file this under “Easiest Recipes on the Planet,” or something along those lines.  One of Queenie’s summer camp counselors posted a photo of some zucchini pizza bites that she made, and we promptly had to recreate the experience – multiple times!  Thanks, CT, for the great idea.

All you need are a few zucchini (we used three) and whatever pizza toppings make you happy.  The first time we made these, we simply used jarred pizza sauce plus shredded vegan cheese (Follow Your Heart mozarella, to be precise).  The second time, we kept half of them simple like the first time and played with the other half (some got a pepperoni slice, some were topped with black olives).  Obviously, you can do anything your heart desires.  Once they’re topped, just pop them in a preheated oven until cooked and tasty.  We did a 425-degree oven for 10 to 15 minutes.





Super easy.  Super tasty.  Downright fun!

Enjoy!  xo

Morning Glory Polenta

While my weekday morning breakfast is almost always a smoothie, on the weekends I sometimes like to make heartier fare.  Today, Queenie and I enjoyed the “Morning Glory Polenta” recipe from Salad Daze:  The Hot Knives Vegetarian Cookbook by Alex Brown and Evan George.  These two lads (aka the Hot Knives guys) have created all kinds of tasty salad recipes in this book (one of my other faves is the “Kale & Potato Breakfast Salad” – yum), including this polenta dream bowl.  I couldn’t find the recipe online anywhere, so I’m just going to give you the gist.  You can wing it from there or check out the book for the details.

There are three components to the dish.  One is a big pot of herbed polenta that is simmered in veggie broth.  The polenta contains pumpkin, sesame and sunflower seeds, as well as shredded carrot and a smidge of shredded coconut.  These items give it a wonderful taste and texture and make it quite filling.


There’s also a lovely vinaigrette that the authors have dubbed “Mimosa Dressing,” that has citrus zest and juice, olive oil and champagne vinegar.  Delish.


This dressing is tossed onto a heap of arugula once that’s been quickly wilted in a dry pan.


Put it all together, and you’ve got a very satisfying way to start the day.


Enjoy!  xo