When the going gets tough, the tough make really boozy cupcakes.

I had an awful weekend.

I had the kind of awful weekend that started on Friday and didn’t end until Monday evening. Ugh.  First, Pancakes the dog got sick, meaning an emergency vet visit, a couple hours in the animal hospital, and Tom and I sitting at home nervously waiting to hear if our darling pup needed surgery. After a tense couple hours –mostly of me being curled up in Tom’s lap crying– we got good news that he just needed some meds and a bland diet for a few days.

Saturday was dog-care centric. And then Sunday we fought. We fought the way parents fight when something bad happens to their children. Each of us blamed the other for Pancakes being sick, or misbehaving, or doing whatever. Then things got personal, they got ugly, because that’s the way things go when couples fight. Some emotionally tense situation is a catalyst for the release of all the hurtful things that parties in a relationship have wanted to say for months but have never had a reason to.  Everything said a valid concern, but left unsaid to spare the feelings of one’s partner. We didn’t go to bed angry. But we didn’t go to bed happy, either.

Yesterday Tom went to work and I tried to write. But couldn’t. I was still mad, I guess. Still exhausted from the weekend. And feeling betrayed by my partner.  To make matters worse, I found out a piece of information he’d been hiding from me. That single tidbit hurt worse than anything he’d said the day before. So I called him at work, crying.  And I started yelling at him for things I wasn’t even mad about. The boy thought I had finally lost it.

After telling him he was tantamount to an emotional robot and calling him cruel, I stopped talking to him for the rest of the afternoon. I curled up on the sofa with Pancakes and started watching Lipstick Jungle. In the first episode they had cupcakes and alcohol for a depressed friend. I wanted cupcakes. And alcohol. But together…

I went into the kitchen and came out of it a couple hours later with Grand Marnier Cupcakes, an orange spice cupcake brushed with Grand Marnier and then frosted with Grand Marnier buttercream.  When Tom got home he thought he was walking into a fight. Instead he walked into dessert. So we sat down and we talked like adults. I told him what I was really mad about and he told me he was hiding this to protect my feelings and very little was going to come of it anyway. Which made sense. So we forgave each other for all the mean things we said over the past few days… and ate cupcakes. All arguments should end in cupcakes.

Three cupcakes on a plate

The recipe that borrows heavily from Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero’s Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. I used their vanilla cupcakes and basic buttercream as base recipes and reworked them for my purposes.  Also, due to the inclusion of alcohol, I feel I have to mention that this is for adults only. “Adult” being determined by whatever your local laws are… which makes very little sense… but whatever… BOOZY CUPCAKES!

Grand Marnier Cupcakes

Ingredients

Cupcakes:

  • Zest and Juice of 1 orange
  • about 1 cup soy milk* (see method section for details)
  • 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 Tablespoons cornstarch
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/3 cup oil (something with a neutral flavor: canola, vegetable, safflower, et cetera)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2-4 Tablespoons Grand Marnier for brushing

Frosting:

  • 1/4 cup non-hydrogenated shortening
  • 1/4 cup non-hydrogenated vegan margarine
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons Grand Marnier
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Method

Cupcakes:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with pretty cupcake liners. If they are not made of parchment paper, spritz them with a bit of cooking spray so they easily release from the cupcake.
  2. Zest the orange and then juice it into a 2-cup liquid measuring cup. This should result in about 1/4 cup of juice. *Add enough soy milk to the orange juice to equal 9 fluid ounces, or 1 cup + 2 Tablespoons of total liquid volume. Let this sit for 5 minutes.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and pumpkin pie spice. Set aside.
  4. In a large bowl, whisk the orange juice and soy milk mixture with the oil, sugar, orange zest, and vanilla until well combined. Add the dry ingredients and mix until no large lumps remain.
  5. Divide the batter between the 12 cupcake liners, filling them about 2/3 full. Bake for 20-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean.
  6. Remove the cupcakes from the pan and place on a rack. Brush the tops of the hot cupcakes with Grand Marnier. Cool completely before frosting. Midway through the cooling process, brush the tops with more Grand Marnier. You may do this more if you like. Just don’t make your cupcakes soggy.

Frosting:

  1. In a large bowl, whip the margarine and shortening together with an electric mixer until well combined and fluffy.
  2. Add the powdered sugar and continue mixing –slowly at first so you don’t end up with a cloud of powdered sugar– for 3 minutes. It will look like a clumpy mess, but this is necessary so the sharp little particles of sugar can cut air pockets into the fat.
  3. Add the Grand Marnier and vanilla extract and beat on high speed for 5 to 7 minutes until your frosting is fluffy.
  4. Pipe (or spread) on to COMPLETELY COOLED cupcakes.

No they can’t even be a little warm. No. Put them in the freezer for 20 minutes if you’re so impatient. If your frosting is done before your cupcakes are cool, just park the bowl in the fridge while they’re chilling out. Be sure to whip the frosting one final time before piping if you do this, though. Just so everything is soft and easy to get out of the pastry bag.

Truffle flavored Roasted Japanese Sweet Potatoes with Black Lava Salt

Jewel yam slices with truffle oil on plate with crab cakes and lettuce

The above photo was our dinner tonight: vegan crab cakes (from the brand Sophie’s Kitchen, really tasty), roasted red pepper remoulade, and –the recipe I’m going to share with you tonight– roasted Japanese Sweet Potato slices flavored with truffle oil and black lava salt.

Before anyone raises the question as to whether or not (good) truffles are vegan due to their being harvested almost exclusively using dogs or pigs, I have to tell you that almost all truffle oil has never had a truffle anywhere near it. The vast majority of truffle oil is flavored synthetically. So no debate needed!

While this plate looks fancy, it’s actually a quick, simple dinner. It all came together in under an hour. And most of that hour I spent on the internet looking at other Vegan MoFo posts.

This is mostly due to the fact that the crab cakes were pre made. All I did was brown them on both sides. The remoulade I made is still “in development.” Which is code for “I don’t actually know what I did, but it was awesome.” Which is the reason the only recipe I’m going to share is the side dish.

What the food hole had labeled as “Jewel Yams” (hence my instagram teaser yesterday) are actually Japanese Sweet Potatoes. They have a ruby red skin and creamy, white flesh.  Their flavor isn’t as pronounced as the bright orange sweet potatoes common around Thanksgiving. Rather, the Japanese sweet potato has a more delicate flavor with a slight sweetness. And in this case, that made an amazing canvas for truffle oil.

This recipe uses two ingredients that aren’t always readily available, truffle oil and black lava salt. Black lava salt is really just used as a contrasting garnish here. You can finish the dish with whatever salt you have and it will taste the same. You could even sprinkle some black sesame seeds on top and get a very similar visual effect. If you can’t get your hands on truffle oil, however, that’s another story. You can try any other infused oil –like garlic or rosemary– but, obviously, you won’t get that truffle flavor without it. Experiment, let me know if there are other flavored oils that work well here.

Truffle flavored Roasted Japanese Sweet Potatoes with Black Lava Salt

Ingredients

  • 1 large Japanese sweet potato
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons truffle oil
  • black lava salt

Method

  1. Sliced, fanned sweet potatoes on baking sheetPreheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Slice the potatoes 1/8 inch thick. Try to keep slices next to each other and in the same orientation. It will make for a prettier finished product. Arrange about half of the slices (15 to 20 ish) on the baking sheet. Fanning them out in a line as shown in the photo. Repeat with the second half of the potato.
  3. Peel the garlic cloves and slice each very thinly, trying to get as many slices out of the two cloves of garlic as you got out of the potato. Tuck a garlic slice between each slice of potato (or nearly every slice).
  4. Drizzle each potato fan with a tablespoon of olive oil and sprinkle them with sea salt.
  5. Roast for 35 to 45 minutes, or until the center is tender and can be easily pierced with a knife.
  6. Transfer to the serving plate by sliding a long, offset spatula under each portion and carefully placing it on the plate. Note: The bottom potato slice on each stack may appear darker than all the others. You may choose not to serve that slice due to it’s appearance, it’s up to you.
  7. Drizzle each portion with a teaspoon (or a little more if you like) of truffle oil. Sprinkle the top with some black lava salt as a garnish. Serves 2.

For the record… Japanese Sweet Potato + Truffle Oil = HOLY CRAP DELICIOUS!!!!!

Tom Food Tuesdays: Succotash

Bowl of succotash topped with avocado fan

The inspiration for this is one of my former co-workers who used to eat beans and corn most days for lunch. This is a way to preserve that simplicity but turn it into something awesome.

Succotash is delicious and one of the easiest things in the world to make. Don’t believe anyone who says that it should be a side dish. It is totally awesome enough to be an entrée.

(Of course, Katie hates simple dishes and totally lost her shit while I was cooking this.)

Editor’s Note: No I did not. I merely expressed concern that perhaps he was doing food wrong.

Succotash takes 10-15 minutes, uses only a single pan, and you probably have everything you need already.

At the most basic level you just need:

  • 1 can black beans – rinse them first, this is very important.
  • An equal amount of corn either caned for frozen is fine. – I’m a big fan of Trader Joe’s fire-roasted corn.
  • 1 jar of salsa. (16oz)

You can lots of other things if you have them:Pan full of succotash

  • Fresh Onion, Mushrooms, and/or bell pepper – dice these and saute them in the pot first so that they can brown before you add anything else.
  • A diced tomato
  • Garlic or Garlic powder
  • A cup of frozen lima beans, peas or shelled edamame – Lima beans are traditional but I prefer peas.
  • And surprisingly Bacos (which are totally vegan, BTW!) – These need to go in towards the beginning.

Just throw everything into the pan, heat until the salsa is bubbling. Season with Bacon Salt and Pepper to taste. Once it’s heated, serve in a bowl with Guacamole or Avocado.

Editor’s Note: Grrrrrrr.

The finished version pictured up top has a tomato, garlic, peas, and avocado.

Veganniversary Presents!

image

After having a conversation about artisan salts and truffle oil at dinner last night, Tom surprised me with these three lovelies: black Sea Salt, alderwood smoked salt and white truffle oil. We also had dinner at Millennium, the hella classy, gourmet vegan restaurant in San Francisco. I would have taken food photos, but it was too dark. And I didn’t want to be “that guy” using a camera flash in a romantically lit restaurant. Don’t be that guy. Tomorrow is Tom Food Tuesday! So look for another post of food I would never make tomorrow. ;-)

Hot Spinach Dip

Aww yeah…

Hot Spinach Dip

It’s my Veganniversary today! YAY!!!! Tom and I are celebrating, but not until tonight. So, I thought I’d get a post in today since I was late with yesterday’s.

This is the Hot Spinach Dip I mentioned in my previous post. About a week ago, Tom asked me to make him some spinach dip because he was sad he couldn’t eat any of the packaged ones at the food hole (that’s his hand in the photo). So I made this one up. No idea how close it is to non-vegan spinach dip, but I can tell you that it is freakin’ tasty. We were snacking on it while we were cooking everything else yesterday.

Unfortunately, it does rely heavily on specialty vegan products and dairy product alternatives. Sorry to those of you who don’t have easy access to this stuff.

Makes 1 8-inch pan of dip

Ingredients

  • 1 16-ounce package frozen chopped spinach
  • 1 bunch of green onions (about 6 to 8), green and white parts chopped
  • 1 8-ounce container of vegan cream cheese (I used Toffuti here. But I imagine the new Daiya one would be good here, too.)
  • 1 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1/4 cup vegan mayonnaise
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped into 1/4 inch squares
  • about 1 cup Daiya mozzarella-style cheese (it was 2 big handfulls)
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • extra daiya for topping

Method

  1. Either thaw the spinach completely in the refrigerator overnight or do what I did… Place the spinach in a microwave safe container and microwave it on high for about 5 minutes or until completely thawed.
  2. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  3. Place the thawed spinach in a wire sieve and press out as much of the liquid as you can using the back of a spoon. This can also be accomplished by placing the spinach in a clean, flour sack style dishtowel (the kind without fuzzy loops) and twisting it into a tight ball, squeezing out all the liquid that way. However, your dishtowel will be stained green. If you don’t mind that, this technique has worked for me in the past very well. Discard liquid.
  4. Place the spinach into a large bowl and add green onions, vegan cream cheese, salt and vegan mayonnaise. Mix well. If the mixture seems too thick to you, add another tablespoon or so of vegan mayonnaise to thin it out.
  5. Add the bell pepper, 1 cup of Daiya, garlic powder, and oregano. Mix well.
  6. Spray an 8 or 9 inch square, glass baking dish or a pie plate with vegetable oil. Spread the mixture into the pan. Sprinkle a little extra Daiya on top.
  7. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes or until hot and bubbly.
  8. Let cool about 5 to10 minutes and serve with your favorite crackers or crusty bread.