Samoa Cupcakes

I told you before about the whole cupcake-lady-at-church-thing. When the annual Chili Cook-off & Homebrew Competition rolled around, of course I volunteered to bring in some vegan cupcakes for the cupcake bar. I mean — pssssssh. Duh.

A friend shared this recipe for Samoa cupcakes with me. He begged me to make them for him. I should point out that he lives in St. Louis. That’s a bit of a trek from the East coast. In lieu of cupcake delivery, I promised him some Facebook foodp*rn.

Rather than shelling out $$ to buy some vegan caramels, I made my own for the topping. Caramels + shipping >> cost of making my own. By a factor of 5+. Do the math. I’m cheap.

Anywho, these cupcakes are just a simple chocolate batter with a delicious top.

Chocolate Cupcake Batter

  • 1 C full-fat coconut milk
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 3/4C sugar
  • 1/3C canola oil
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract (or coconut extract, if you wanna get fancy!)
  • 1C AP flour
  • 1/3C extra-dark cocoa
  • 1 tsp instant espresso powder
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Preheat the oven to 350F and line a 12-ct cupcake tin. Whisk together milk and vinegar and set aside. In a large bowl, beat sugar, oil, and vanilla until combined. Add the milk mixture and beat until foamy.

Sift together flour, cocoa, espresso powder, baking powder and soda, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the wet in two batches, beating so no large lumps remain. Fill liners 2/3 full. Bake 18-22 minutes.

Samoa Topping

  • 1/2 recipe coco-caramels (8-10 oz)
  • 3 C shredded coconut (I used sweetened, but use unsweetened if you prefer), toasted
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 2-3 T coconut milk

Break up the caramel and place in a large microwave-safe bowl with coconut milk and salt. Cook on high for 3-4 minutes, stopping to stir every minute or so to help the caramel melt. When smooth, fold in toasted coconut with a spatula. Allow to cool slightly before spreading on cupcakes. If the mixture begins to firm up too much, microwave it for about 30 seconds to soften it enough for spreading. I used about 2T topping per cupcake, spreading it on with a small spreader.

Chocolate Drizzle

Place the chips in a piping bag or Ziploc bag. If in a piping bag, stand it up in a large microwave-safe drinking glass. If a Ziploc, make sure it’s sealed. Microwave on medium power for 30 seconds at a time, squeezing the chocolate between each zap. Once melted, snip the end of the pastry bag or the corner of the Ziploc and drizzle over your cupcakes.

Voila! Beautiful, delicious perfection.

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Ratatouille Leftovers

You guys know I can’t pass up an opportunity to use up leftovers in a new dish. It’s part of the fun in making food in the first place. So when I had a big pot of delicious ratatouille left after dinner, I put on my superhero cape and got to work.

I use no-boil or “oven ready” lasagna noodles when I can find them. Two reasons: time-saving and I don’t boil the skin of my hands off by handling hot slippery noodles. When possible, I assemble my lasagna the moment I know I’ll have leftovers. Having a large lasagna pan with a lid makes that super-easy. Just slap it together and refrigerate or freeze it until you’re ready for it to bake.

I do keep some jars of pasta sauce on hand, although it’s super-easy to make your own from fresh tomatoes or cans of tomatoes or tomato sauce. What I use depends on the time I have and what flavors I want in my lasagna. As a fair warning, I LOVE garlic. So a classic Napoletana made with roasted garlic is usually my go-to kind of sauce (Yes, I know Barilla isn’t exactly high-end).

Ratatouille Lasagna

  • 1 pkg oven-ready lasagna noodles
  • 1-2 C ratatouille
  • 1 recipe tofu ricotta
  • 1 (14-16 oz) jar pasta sauce (or 2 C of your own devising)
  • 2 C kale or spinach, washed, dried, sautéed
  • Daiya mozzarella shreds

In the bottom of a 9×13 casserole or lasagna pan, spread about 1/4C of pasta sauce. Cover with a layer of noodles. Top with the kale and half the ricotta and a sprinkle of Daiya. Add a layer of noodles and coat with sauce. Spread with ratatouille and top with Daiya and some sauce. Layer with noodles. Spread with the rest of the ricotta mixture. Sprinkle with Daiya. Top with noodles. Use remaining sauce to completely cover the noodles. Sprinkle  with more Daiya. Cover pan with foil.

You can refrigerate this up to two days, freeze for (probably no longer than) a month, or bake it immediately for an hour in a 350F oven. Remove foil during last 10 minutes of baking.

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Ratatouille

Skinner: You know something about rats, you know you do!
Linguini: You know who know, do, whacka-do. Ratta-tatta – Hey, why do they call it that?
Skinner: What?
Linguini: Ratatouille. It’s like a stew, right? Why do they call it that? If you’re gonna name a food, you should give it a name that sounds delicious. Ratatouille doesn’t sound delicious. It sounds like “rat” and “patootie.” Rat patootie! Which does not sound delicious.
from Disney/Pixar’s “Ratatouille“. quote via IMDB

Weirdly enough, my own “Little Chef” doesn’t like this movie as much as I do. Maybe it’s because it doesn’t feature enough animals, or maybe because he’d rather actually be in the kitchen helping me rather than watching people cook on TV. Who knows. The kid is crazy.

But lookit this.

remys-ratatouille

If you’ve ever had ratatouille, you know it would take more than just that tiny little stack of perfectly-mandolined veggies to make a meal. It’s a stew. A bit heaping bowl or plate of delicious, warming, comforting stew. Like this:

ratatouille

Ratatouille

  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1 medium red or orange bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 1 eggplant, stemmed and diced
  • 2 small zucchini, diced
  • 2-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 T vegetable broth or water
  • 1 large tomato, diced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • herbs of choice

In a large saucepan or a pot, saute onion over medium heat for 10-15 minutes, stirring and scraping the pan as needed. Add bell pepper, eggplant, zucchini, garlic, and broth or water. Cover and cook for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in tomatoes, then season with salt and pepper.

I used 1 tsp of dried basil in this, but an Italian blend or Herbes de Provence also does well.

Of course, there are other variations to this dish. Often, the eggplant and zucchini will be sautéed separately, then a sauce is made with the onions, peppers, garlic, and tomatoes. The eggplant and zucchini might be layered in a casserole dish or a dutch oven, then covered in the sauce and baked or simmered on the stove. Whatever method you prefer, it will turn out delicious!

Leftovers? Well, you know we’ll make good use of those. Tune in next time (and sorry for the wait)!

In the meantime, enjoy this article I read recently from our local “alternative” newspaper: “Methinks I Don’t Protest Enough or Mama, I’m Running Away to Join the Circus Protest.”

Eventful Bacon

It’s been a heck of a hiatus, and my kitchen is still recovering. Of course, that doesn’t stop me from making the mess bigger!

After an absolutely dreadful cold that sapped me of any will to do anything (including eat! yikes!), I’m finally almost back to 100% and ready to go again. It’s been an interesting coupla weeks, lemme tell ya.

My mom flew in in the midst of everything to celebrate the Little Dude’s third birthday (three? already??), and I baked him up a little cake from a Duncan Hines mix (that right there should tell you all you need to know about how I was feeling!). Some of these flavors fall in to that “accidentally vegan” category, so I went with the Dark Chocolate Fudge mix. Normally, the box wants 3 eggs, 1 C water, and 1/3 C oil added. That wasn’t going to cut it for the VV household, obvs. I sifted in 1 1/2 tsp of baking soda with the dry mix and used 1 C soy milk with 1 tsp apple cider vinegar in place of water. I found a 3.2 oz Buddy Fruit (apple + banana) in the pantry that I mixed into the batter as well. It worked for the 4″ round cake and several cupcakes.

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I’m not calling that an official recipe — just letting you all know that it can be done!

I was inspired by Phoney Baloney to mimic their coconut bacon after I found a tub of coconut chips at my favorite Asian market. I dragged my mom along to it and she seemed a little overwhelmed. She survived though, enough to help me demolish some of this crispy tastiness. So, here’s the scoop — in a really flexible format. Ha.

Special Sauce

I have no exact formula for this. Bear with me. I love Sriracha you guys. Like. Really love it. And I can’t bear to toss out that tiny little bit that’s impossible to get out of the bottle. It makes me sadface really badly. So, I turn it into my special bacon sawce.

  • sriracha dregs, in bottle
  • 1/4 C Bragg’s Liquid Aminos (coconut aminos, shoyu, soy sauce, etc.)
  • 1/4 tsp liquid smoke
  • optional: 1 tsp vegan Worcestershire or maple syrup

Add all to bottle and shake.

Coconut Facon

  • two or three handfuls coconut chips
  • 2-3 tsp “special sauce”

Preheat oven to 325F. If you have a convection oven, preheat it to 300F. In a small bowl, combine chips and sauce and stir to coat. Spread chips in a single layer on a parchment-lined rimless cookie cheet. Bake 20-30 minutes, until crispy. If using a convection oven, the time will be shorter and you’ll only need to “stir” the chips once, about halfway through. A conventional oven will require some babysitting. You’ll need to flip the chips about ever 5 minutes or so to keep them from burning. Store in an airtight container or bag in the fridge for about a week. To crisp up the chips, bake at 250F for a few minutes, or dry-fry on the stovetop.

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Cold Killer

It feels like it’s been forever since I’ve had an appetite for anything. Having a cold means that the sense of taste is so dulled, eating isn’t enjoyable. What’s the point of eating good food if I can’t taste it? I’ve been living off of cream of wheat and coffee, so it’s understandable that this week has been dragging on. I was so tired of not tasting food by Friday that I decided to fight back with garlic. LOTS of garlic.

Like, an entire bulb of garlic.

Cold-Killer Soup

  • 1 T olive oil
  • 3 oz stemmed and thinly sliced shiitake mushrooms
  • 1 bulb garlic, peeled and sliced thinly
  • 1/4 C rice vinegar
  • 1/4 C dry quinoa
  • 1 bunch kale, stemmed and roughly chopped
  • 1 C filtered water
  • 4 C vegetable broth
  • salt and pepper to taste

  • Heat oil in a soup pot over med-high heat. Add mushrooms and sauté until browned, about 15 minutes. Add garlic and sauté until fragrant. Add rice vinegar and cook until evaporated. Add quinoa, water, and broth. Bring to a simmer. Add kale. Simmer 20 minutes, until kale is softened and quinoa is cooked.

    I prefer to use lacinato kale in this, but curly kale is also a good alternative. I lightly massage the kale by rolling it between my palms while I’m adding it to the pot. This makes it a little more tender and slightly less bitter.

    Feel free to cut the garlic in half if your tastebuds work properly!

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    Troublemakers…

    Carol is causing trouble again over at Coffee, Clutter and Chaos, making my sweet treats healthier (and not quite vegan — but I’ll let it slide).  She converted my Chocolate Death Puddingcake into a diabetic and Weight-Watcher friendly recipe. Use coconut oil or vegan margarine such as Earth Balance (did you know they have a soy-free option??) in place of butter and rice milk instead of 1% cow’s milk, and the points and conversions should be similar.

    I’m sorry I have nothing new to give you guys this week, since our household has been suffering from some sort of Yuck. I hope to be back in the kitchen cooking up evil by early next week at the latest! Thanks for being patient.

    If you have any recipe requests… types of food you like, maybe for some more sweets or savories, leave it in the comments below. I’m always up for a challenge!

    V.V.

    Chocolate Death Puddingcake

    This is going to be short because, honestly, I need to get back to eating this thing.

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    Despite the five-star reviews promising an easy recipe for a chocolate explosion and orgasmic bliss (okay, I might be exaggerating a little, but they should have warned me), this recipe bit my Skeptical Node and wouldn’t let go. I had to try it.

    From the super-thick batter to the dirt storm it gets topped with, I was shaking my head. Then, with the addition of hot water forming a giant $***-puddle on top, I started muttering under my breath to all the baking gods. I wanted chocolate. What can I say? I got it. Probably more chocolate than my body has room for.

    Preheat oven to 350F.

  • 3/4 C sugar
  • 1 C AP flour
  • 3 T cocoa
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/3 C coconut oil, melted
  • 1/2 C soy milk
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • Mix sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt in a medium mixing bowl. Add oil, milk, and vanilla, and stir until combined. Spread batter evenly in the bottom of an 8×8 pan.

    In a small bowl, combine:

  • 1/2 C sugar
  • 1/2 C packed light brown sugar
  • 4 T cocoa
  • Sprinkle evenly over top of batter. Don’t stir.

  • 1 1/4 C hot weak coffee (or water)
  • Pour over batter and sugar mixture. Don’t stir. Bake 40 minutes. Remove from oven and let sit 10 minutes, until center is set.

    NOTE: This cake doesn’t rise, but it does bubble. Make sure you bake it in a dish with at least a 2-inch depth.

    Cut a piece of the cake, and place upside-down on your plate or in a bowl, and spoon some sauce from the bottom of the pan over it.

    Try not to eat this all at once, eh? It makes a great “emergency” Valentine’s dessert 😉