Monday, May 13, 2013

Vegan Treasure Chest Cake

Last week was a bad week. Nothing majorly catastrophic, just a collection of a lot of really crappy little occurrences culminating in a minor anxiety attack in a checkout line at Target:
  • I was turned down for 3 different jobs
  • I got a parking ticket due to my own stupidity (and they are not cheap in LA)
  • both of my embroidery machines were crapping out on me the week before I'm vending at World Fest
I know in the grand scheme of life, these are not a big deal but in my own little reality it was certainly frustrating. Needless to say, I was desperately in need of some creative therapy and lucky for me my nephew's 6th birthday party just happened to be last Saturday. 

It has become a tradition for me to make him a birthday cake matching the theme of his party. There has been a monster truck, a Transformer and this year it was a treasure chest from Jake & the Neverland Pirates. In years past I didn't make the cake vegan because I'm the only one in my family who is, but this year I decided to go for it and not tell anyone until after they said how awesome it was (I'm nefarious that way).

I found a Betty Crocker chocolate fudge cake mix that was accidentally vegan (I know, I know, not the most healthy of choices, but my baking from scratch attempts usually end in complete and total failure). I substituted the 3 eggs it called for with 3/4c unsweetened apple sauce and it turned out AMAZING!

The bottom part of the chest was made up of 4 layers of deliciously awesome chocolate cake and the lid was formed from handmade vegan rice crispy treats. I used chocolate fondant to cover both parts and yellow colored vanilla fondant for the decorations.

There were a lot of little details I didn't have time to get to, but I think it turned out super cute! The whole process of decorating a cake like this is therapeutic for me. I find the kneading and rolling of the fondant to be soothing. It was definitely exactly what I needed to forget about the previous events of the week - and chocolate cake can solve almost any problem - amiright?!

Everyone loved the cake and it was fun to tell them it was vegan after they all raved about it! My nephew had a fun pirate themed pool party and he seemed to be excited about the treasure chest cake his auntie made him.

Me & Jake

Sunday, May 5, 2013

L.A. Vegan Beer & Food Fest 2013

Yesterday was the 4th annual Los Angeles Vegan Beer & Food Festival. Last year I was a volunteer, but this time around I wanted to roam around and enjoy the fest free of responsibility. My husband and I met up with some awesome friends and had an amazing time eating great food, drinking beer (full disclosure: I do not like beer! I tried a few and really didn't like any of them except for the one cider I found and the kombucha beer), enjoying amazing music and meeting new people.

My friends Jeremy & Lucy - that's me in the middle.

It's so refreshing to attend an event where you know you can eat and drink everything there, no need to hound each vendor for their ingredient list. I would love to see more vegan events like this in L.A. throughout the year! There were so many people - I love what a large vegan community there is in this city.

Photo Credit: Zombie Eye Photography

On to the food! We ate so much, but only hit about half the vendors. There was a lot of yummy looking food I didn't get to try - it's hard to pace yourself and still try one of everything!

First stop, the Seabirds truck. I knew the line for this one would get long so we ordered our Battered Avocado tacos right off the bat. Just as amazing as I remember them being last year! Certainly one of my favorite vegan dishes ever.

Next stop was The Frankenstand - always a treat, great vegan hot dogs, but today we tried their special Cannibal sandwich.  Super good - the green sauce was amazing.

After a brief pause from eating, I moved on to some vegan tamales. These were made with soy meat and beans. It's been SO long since I've had a tamale and this one definitely hit the spot!

Sometime after the tamale and sampling numerous beers I did not like (nothing against the beer makers, I've just never been a fan of beer) - we came across the beverage highlight of the day (cue singing angels): Unity Vibration Kombucha Beer. I think I drank about 17 glasses of this stuff. It was light & refreshing. The raspberry was delicious, and the ginger was a perfect way to settle my stomach so I could get back to eating more stellar vegan food. Plus - it's gluten free!

After waiting in a line that did not move for 20 minutes hoping to get some jambalaya, we gave up and went to Tony's Darts Away for a seitan french dip sandwich. The au jus was to die for!

Couple more glasses of kombucha beer later, we went back to Seabirds for potato & cheese taquitos. Super crisp and tasty, though not as fantastic as the avo tacos. I could live off the creamy sauce they were topped with.

There were also some french fries from Fresh Fries and a dynamite roll from Shojin consumed during the day but I forgot to get pics of those.

Overall the day was a mad success and I cannot wait until next year! My friend Melissa and I even got to meet the Happy Cow!!

**The one drawback of this year's fest was the bathroom situation. I'm not a fan of porta-potties, but I will use them in dire situations. Unfortunately there was no water in the hand washing stations every time I checked throughout the day and no way was I going to use the bathroom without being able to wash my hands after :( There was also a massive line most of the day. I know this year was the biggest turnout they've had, so hopefully next year they will improve on that.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Easy Vegan Nachos

These nachos are super easy and damn tasty. Paired with beans & and salad they could be a complete meal or served as an app on Cinco de Mayo!

What you will need:
Tortilla chips
Vegan cheese shreds
Diced tomatoes
Garlic powder
Black pepper
Vegetable oil spray

1. Preheat oven to 425ยบ. Line a cookie sheet with foil and lightly spray with vegetable oil.

2. Layer chips evenly across the sheet. Sprinkle with cheese, tomatoes & spices.

3. Heat in the oven for 5-6 minutes (the chips can burn quickly so keep your eye on them!) until cheese is hot & bubbly.

I served mine with organic refried black beans. Sadly all my avocados had gone bad or else I would have sliced some of those up to go with it as well.

Friday, April 26, 2013


Last month Tal Ronnan opened a new plant-based restaurant on Melrose in Los Angeles called Crossroads. The vegan community here has been all a-buzz about this place and for good reason! The husband and I and two of our friends went there for a dinner a couple weeks ago and it did not disappoint. Vegan fine dining - AWESOME!

Since the menu consists of small plates, we pretty much ordered one of everything plus the daily specials. It was a great way to try everything out. Here are all the pics and my thoughts on each dish:

I started with a cocktail: Melrose Mule - vodka, ginger beer, lime, cucumber, mint & banana pepper - YUM!!!

First starter: lentil flatbread w/ leek pate, smoked white bean hummus, & tomato braised banana peppers. The white bean was my favorite, so smokey and delicious. The tomato was also very good. The leek I wasn't impressed with.
Second starter: Flatbread w/ Pistachio kalamata tapenade & spicy roasted cauliflower. Really, really good. Salty, nutty and cooked to perfection.

Third starter: Kale Caesar Salad (special menu item) - I have to say one of THE best salads I have ever had.  Crispy kale, creamy dressing and amazing saltiness from capers. 

Spiced Chickpeas: I could have eaten an entire bowl of these. I love me some spice and these had just the right amount.

Red Quinoa: not my favorite. It wasn't bad, just nothing incredibly special about it.

Cassoulet: Another one that was ok. The lentils were not very flavorful, but the veggies on top were really good!

Artichoke Oysters: I'm still thinking about these, I may just order 5 plates of this dish next time I go. So much flavor and very inventive!
"Crab Cakes": Another dish I would order over & over again. With dishes like this, no one needs to eat real seafood. 

Kale Spanakopita: YUM, YUM, YUM!
Risotto Stuffed Banana Pepper: This one looks incredibly, um,  manly.  Beyond that, it was my least favorite dish, the risotto was undercooked and the pepper was WAY too spicy.
Gardein Chicken (special menu item): This was actually really really good even though there wasn't anything super special about it.
Tortelloni: another amazing dish. The almond cheese was to die for.


Chocolate Bundt Cake: it had me at chocolate. Holy crap this was good.

Cappuccino Ice Cream w/ Florentine Cookie: also amazing.

Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta: pretty damn good, though it would not be my normal dessert choice. 

Cookies & almond milk!!
Overall, an amazing dining experience. SO much good food, the service was attentive and friendly and the atmosphere is chic and upscale. I can't wait to go back!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Baked Eggplant Parmesan

This is an easy vegan baked eggplant "parm" (I didn't have vegan parmesan so I used mozzarella instead). Much healthier than a fried version.

What you will need:
1 large eggplant
1/2 cup soy milk
3/4 cup bread crumbs
1 jar marinara sauce
3/4 cup vegan mozzarella shreds

1. Slice eggplant in 3/4" slices, layer in a strainer in a single layer and sprinkle with salt. Lay a plate or casserole dish on top of the eggplant. This will draw extra moisture out of the eggplant. Let drain for an hour or so. Remove slices from strainer, and pat with a dry paper towel.

2. Preheat oven to 400°. Put soy milk & bread crumbs on 2 separate plates. Dip each side of a piece of eggplant in the soy milk and then breadcrumbs and place on a lined cookie sheet. Repeat with all pieces.

3. Bake for 5-6 minutes on each side.

4. Pour half of the marinara into a casserole dish, layer on the eggplant, cover with the rest of the sauce then sprinkle with cheese. Bake for 30-40 minutes.

Monday, January 28, 2013

LA Vegan Crepe

Happy 2013 all! I know I'm a bit late to the game, but 2013 has gotten off to a rough start and I have seriously been neglecting this blog. But - onward and upward! It seems I will have a bit more free time on my hands for the next couple months so I will do my best to post more often.

I want to talk about this cute little restaurant my husband and I discovered yesterday called LA Vegan Crepe. It opened a little over a month ago and we were both happy to find a new place to get a good vegan breakfast.

The place is cute and clean and luckily not too busy for a Sunday morning (though I'm sure that won't last very long once word starts to spread). Service is friendly, though not very speedy, but maybe that's a good thing. Us Americans tend to rush through our meals instead of relaxing and enjoying our experience.

On to the food! I started with a Green Machine juice. Kale, spinach, cucumber and apple. Just what I needed to start the day off right.

For my meal I ordered the tofu scramble with potatoes which was very tasty and just the right proportion to fill me up without making feel like I overate. The husband ordered waffles and I forgot to take a picture, but they were SO good.

Philippe, one of the owners, stopped by our table and spoke with us about where he gets some of their ingredients. Super nice guy. We love supporting local vegan businesses, so I'm sure we will be back often!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Vegan Interrogated: Tamsyn

Name: Tamsyn
Location: UK

A little about yourself:
I'm a 23 year old vegan of 5 years, jewellery maker and all around craft-a-holic. I spend my time with my vegan partner and our furbabies Cali & Percy (jack russell and collie respectively).

What made you decide to go vegan?
I'd been vegetarian for about a year and it was just the obvious next step for me. As soon as I went veggie I started looking into animal rights a lot more, watching things like 'Meet Your Meat' etc (and eventually Earthlings etc).. i'd always been an animal lover (perhaps a misguided one at that) so the things I was seeing were completely devastating to me. I felt so guilty that I was still contributing to such a horrible industry and went vegan after watching 2 videos on dairy.

Who/what inspires you?
Other vegans, totally! I'm continuously learning from other vegans (and I hope some of that may work the other way too..) :).

Dumbest question someone asked you about being vegan.
Are you sure you're getting enough iron/calcium/protein (insert nutrient here ;) )? YES!
You can also use a nutrient checker like cron-o-meter to see where you're at with your nutrient intakes :D - really helpful.

Do you have any advice for people toying with the idea of becoming a vegan?
Just do it! :D If you need any sources, these are always what I list when others ask me about veganism -
Gary Yourofsky -
Earthlings -
Dr Klaper, Foods that Kill -
Finding Vegan -

Monday, November 5, 2012

Go Max Go Candy Bars

One thing I missed a lot when I went vegan was candy bars (though probably best for my waistline that they weren't so readily available to me anymore!). I used to love Snickers, 3 Musketeers, Butterfinger and Milky Way but all those went the way of the wind when I became vegan.

By happy accident about 6 months ago I discovered Go Max Go Foods who make delicious vegan (and some gluten-free) chocolate candy bars. They have versions resembling some of my past favorite candy, though theirs are by far superior (and cruelty-free, so even better!). Here are the goods:

Cleo's: peanut butter cups
Snap!: crisped rice bar
Jokerz: peanuts, nougat & caramel
Buccaneer: chocolate nougat
Twilight: nougat & caramel
Mahalo: coconut & almonds
*Coming Soon: Thumbs Up: crispy peanut butter

I love supporting vegan businesses, especially ones that truly appreciate their customers. All you have to do is check out their Fan Page on Facebook to see how warm and amazing these guys are.

A couple months ago I left a message on their page suggesting a vegan version of a Butterfinger and to my happy surprise they responded that is was already in the works - OH HAPPY DAYS!! It really doesn't take much to get me excited. I have been counting the days until they release it.

Another super happy surprise is when I won their candy giveaway contest a couple weeks ago and received one of each of their candy bars (including a sample of the new Thumbs Up bar!!). Super excited. I had already grown to love Jokerz, Twilight, and Buccaneer (and would even make special trips to Whole Foods when I was craving them - I love my candy y'all) but this gave me the opportunity to try Cleo's peanut butter cups and Snap! crisped rice bar. Both excellent, but holy cow the Cleo's is AMAZING! Unlike other peanut butter cups, who's filling tends to be flaky and only somewhat resemble actual peanut butter, you bite into Cleo's and REAL ooey gooey delicious peanut butter awaits you. Yum.

I saved the Thumbs Up bar for last because I was so excited to try it I wanted to savor the moment. It did not disappoint folks. Crispy peanut buttery center covered in delectable rice milk chocolate. What has two thumbs and loves this new Thumbs Up bar?? THIS GIRL! Can't wait until I can get it in the stores (sorry waistline).

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween & Goodbye MoFo

Happy Halloween everyone! Halloween is definitely one of my favorite holidays. I love dressing up, I love Fall weather (if we ever get any in CA), I love the creepy factor and most of all I love all the pumpkin recipes that pop up around this time of year.

Sadly today marks the last day of Vegan MoFo, but I've had so much fun participating this year and discovering tons of new blogs to follow!

Yesterday I decided to bake some pumpkin muffins on a whim. I used Isa Chandra's recipe for The Best Pumpkin Muffins from ThePPK. The only thing I did different was add 3/4 cup of vegan chocolate chips. I'm not usually the best baker in the world but these turned out perfect! So pumpkiny and delicious!

This year for Halloween I had my awesome friend Mara from Indiscretion make me a Daenarys costume from Game of Thrones. What are your costumes??