Category Archives: Cookbooks

Melisser Elliott’s Handy New Guide

These days it seems like a new vegan cookbook hits the market every week.  It’s awesome that the vegan population is large enough to support all the new titles but I’m noticing that it’s becoming increasingly difficult for authors to find a vegan niche that hasn’t already been covered in print.  There are already vegan books on everything from Caribbean cooking to  gluten-free baking and everything in between.  I was delighted to find that Melisser Elliott a.k.a. The Urban Housewife’s new book, The Vegan Girl’s Guide to Life, is so unique and is a welcome addition to my kitchen bookshelf.

Melisser’s book is a hipper version of “Living Vegan for Dummies.”  It covers every aspect of veganism ranging from what one eats and wears to crafting and even gardening (shout out to SoCal’s Adriana Martinez!).  Sprinkled throughout are profiles of cool vegan chicas, many of whom have cool vegan blogs.  I wish this book had been out when I first went vegan—it is chock full of  handy info like how to make your pet’s diet cruelty-free.

I love the chapter on nutrition where Melisser’ defers to Choosing Raw’s Gena Hamshaw.  Despite spending an ungodly amount of time reading vegan blogs and books about health, I still find that I have trouble remembering all the vitamins and minerals I need to be getting.  Gena writes a concise yet comprehensive run-down of the basic info every vegan needs to know about proper nutrition.

Of course there is no such thing as a vegan book without recipes.  The book has a collection of recipes both from Melisser herself and from other vegan notables.  I have an affinity for the Tangy Cabbage Beet Slaw, so much so that I’ve eaten it for lunch the past three days in a row.  It’s healthy, simple, and delicious—just like I like it.

The Vegan Girl’s Guide to Life is the perfect gift for a new vegan but also for an old vegetarian—you know the kind…the ones who have been off meat for years but just need that extra push to go all the way.  It’s also very useful for more experienced vegans will want to whip up the inventive recipes.  I’m looking forward to checking out the sites of the some of the featured bloggers that I’m not already familiar with–they all sound amazing.

Now for the best part for all my fellow Angelenos…Melisser will be in town tonight Friday January 14th, signing copies of her book from 7pm to 9pm at Doomies!  Pick up a copy of the book, get it signed, and have some delish vegan goodies.  Sounds like the perfect start to a long weekend (MLK woo woo!) to me!

Chocolate Chip Cookies from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar

Well, Isa and Terry have managed to perfect the art of the vegan chocolate chip cookie.  This first recipe in the new Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar is awesome.  It is easy (dirtying just one bowl = heaven for a dishwasher-less gal like me) and basic.  It doesn’t call for molasses like the recipe in VWAV which will keep picky omnivores you serve these to from complaining about the flavor.  The texture is absolutely perfect–a thin layer of crisp on the bottom with the rest of the cookie being delightfully chewy.  The sole drawback of these bad boys is the 2/3 cup oil required.  The dough is extremely greasy.  The cookies don’t come out of the oven oily at all, but the raw dough is so friggin slippery it’s scary.  Oh well, you don’t go baking chocolate chip cookies when you’re trying to be healthy anyway!

Overall, I am a little underwhelmed by the new cookie book.  Most of the recipes either seem boring or unappealing.  I think I was hoping for some whoopie pies or some truffles perhaps.  There are definitely a lot of unique recipes, but they just don’t exactly sound enticing (tahini lime cookies for example.)  Maybe I’m just not as cookie crazy as I thought I was.  Regardless, I am definitely eager to try to grapefruit icebox cookie recipe as well as the oreo knock-offs.  The purchase of the book was worth it for the chocolate chip cookie recipe alone.

Note: don’t feed chocolate to your dog!  Hayley didn’t eat this cookie, she just wanted to admire it from afar.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cupcakes: A Wunderbar Fall Treat

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Just a short one tonight, as I’ve got a busy day tomorrow, starting with an early morning volunteering with PAWS/LA!

It wouldn’t be October without pumpkin flavored things!  For a recent trip to Hollywood Forever for a cemetary screening, I whipped up these pumpkin chocolate chip cupcakes from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World and topped them with cream cheese frosting.  I think our little group enjoyed them and I found them to be just delightful.  I don’t always love the icing recipes in VCTOTW’s because they can either be too runny or too sweet, but I have no complaints about the cream cheese frosting, which I will happily lick off the beaters.

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I am a terrible blogger!  I wanted to post every day for Mofo as soon as I got back from Mexico, but then, as soon as I got back from Mexico, my computer decided to be a total jerk and have a major meltdown.  Agh!!!!  But I have showered her with attention and got her back on track.  So let’s start Mofo-ing all over the place!

The one baking recipe I use far more than any other, is Isa’s Sparkled Ginger Cookies from Vegan with a Vengeance.  These are the best ginger snaps I’ve ever had and by rolling them in turbinado sugar before baking, they are also the prettiest.  I usually associate ginger cookies with Fall and Winter, but I make these bad boys year round.  I usually quadruple (yes, quadruple) the recipe and keep the extra dough in the freezer to bake off whenever.

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Before I left for Mexico, it was so boiling hot in L.A. that if I hadn’t finished my daily run by 8 a.m. I had to quit because it just got too Saharan.  Then I go away for a week and Los Angeles has transformed into an Autumnal paradise with temps cold enough at night that I can pull out my crazy comfy snow socks!  I had to bake up a batch of these beloved snaps right away to really get into this October mood.

If you haven’t made these before, you best get on it!  The holidays will be here before we know it and Christmas without ginger snaps is a CRIME!  Looking forward to this October month of food.  October is my absolute favorite month and this October in particular is going to be action-packed for me so hopefully the festivities will bear some fun posts.  See you tomorrow!

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Saint Valentine’s Lemon Bars

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I have been craving a lemony dessert for a while so when I was trying to figure out what kind of tasty treat I could whip up for Valentine’s Day that would be good and easy, I set out on the search for the perfect lemon bar recipe. The Veganomicon recipe was a bit involved with its call for both agar agar and arrowroot powder, so I opted to use the version in The Joy of Vegan Baking.

This is a wonderfully simple recipe. The crust is a simple shortbread made with vegan margarine, powdered sugar, and flour. The filling is simply lemon, silken tofu, sugar, flour, and cornstarch. This was my first time using silken tofu and I’m not sure I used it the correct way. After I had blended all the filling ingredients, the mixture was surprisingly runny. Sure enough, I had to add 12 minutes on to the suggested 20 minute baking time to get the filling to set and not be a runny mess. I am assuming this means I was supposed to drain the tofu first? That had occurred to me before I started but I didn’t see any mention of draining the tofu in the recipe nor was it explained in any other part of the book, so I thought that you just must not have to drain silken tofu. Can anyone advise me on this? I’d like to try a silken tofu chocolate mousse next but if it will be runny like this filling was before I baked it, I won’t even bother. If you are indeed supposed to drain it, how do you do it? It’s very fragile so I can’t imagine it holding up well being pressed between paper towels.

The only baking dish I had that was an appropriate size was this round one, so I guess these are more like lemon bar pie slices than lemon bars. I added about 1/8 teaspoon of turmeric to give the filling the yellow hue of traditional lemon bars. I used Twizzler’s Pull ‘N’ Peels (yup, they’re vegan!) to form little hearts for a garnish. I didn’t really believe the recipe when it said that the powdered sugar on top would sink into the filling, but it’s true. After about twenty minutes the powdered sugar had disappeared, so make sure you do that step just right before your about to serve these babies up.

Even with the hardened crust that came with the extra baking time I tacked on, these lemon slices were deeeeelish and the recipe was easy enough for me to whip it up quickly after work. Happy Valentine’s Day!!!

Another soul crushing "Biggest Loser" and cupcakes galore

Okay, first order of business. Is anyone out there a Biggest Loser fan? I don’t know how you couldn’t be. It is by far the most fascinating and emotionally charged social experiment of our time. Kirby Von Scrumptious and I like the show so much that last year I made some phone calls (in which I may or may not have acted like my own personal assistant so as to seem like an important Hollywood player) to get us tickets to the live taping of the Season 5 season finale. I continue to watch the show even though I often suffer from post-show depression from tearing up and/or sob an average of five times per episode (although at least one of those times is because I am so disgusted by the absurd abundance of product placement.)

The episode that aired tonight was particularly killer. I cannot believe those knuckleheads voted off Jerry!!! I know there has only been two episodes this season but I’ve already fallen in love with that white-haired teddy bear and to see him go so soon was like taking a swift kick to the head. Which is what I will give to those contestants who voted for Jerry to leave should I ever encounter them out there in the real world!

On to some food…

This winter I finally got in on the cupcake craze with the rest of the vegan blogosphere. It all started when I made a batch for a coworker to bring to the set of the new show he works on. They turned out great and then I had all the ingredients in the cupboard so I just kept making more. The most popular turned out to be the Cookies ‘N’ Cream cupcake from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. Maaaaan oh man are they good. If you want to woo a cute boy or girl, I highly recommend making a batch of these babies.


I also made VCTOTW’s Mucho Margarita Cupcakes. With real tequila in the mix, what’s not to love?

Here is The Food Monster getting ready to cram a Jelly Donut cupcake from Veganomicon into his face. These were also delish although they were almost more breakfast-y than dessert like. Also, the book says that the jelly is supposed to submerge itself while baking, which did not happen with mine. I’ve seen other bloggers had their jelly sink successfully (like Vegan Dad’s) so I don’t know what’s up with mine.


My favorite cupcake flavor turned out to be a concoction I whipped up myself after being inspired by a lunch at Hugo’s: horchata. I am going to save the recipe for a little creative venture I’m working on (no, no, not a cookbook), but I will post the recipe at a later date because everyone should be able to experience the exquisite joy that is an horchata cupcake.

You may notice that the frosting in all of these pictures looks rather thin and flat. These photos were taken in my earliest cupcakes before I figured out that lessening, or in some cases, completely omitting milk from the frosting recipe creates a more normal, thick frosting. Also, I want to point out that I have learned to cut the frosting recipes from VCTOTW by a third because they recipes make an INSANE amount. I was sick of having an entire mixing bowl of frosting left over.

Ok, I need to stop looking at this cupcake porn now–a detoxing lady can only take so much temptation!

Odds and Ends

Hello friends! Long time no blog. I have been M.I.A. for a while due to general holiday insanity. Before I skipped town to visit various family members in various cities, I was super busy running around like a maniac making Christmas presents, doing things that I had put off all fall because I couldn’t bring myself to leave the hammock, and taking my dog to visit Santa.

Here are some odds and ends from the vegan life of late.


Vegan Potluck
Vegyogini and Your Vegan Mom hosted a wonderful vegan potluck for the local vegan blogging community. Everyone brought an hors d’oeuvres which meant that we had one mean spread to feast on. All the food was amazing. Personally, I think I ate about 300 of the little testicular Saku that Foodeater brought along with 99 fried raviolis (I can’t remember who brought those ravioli but damn they were good!) in addition to all the other awesome goodies that were there. I had planned on making homemade summer rolls but with the aforementioned insanity that was December, I needed something less labor intensive. So I ended up whipping up a batch of Veganomicon’s walnut-mushroom paté. It was pretty tasty and was fairly simple to make so I would definitely recommend it. The group of omni boys who happened to be shooting a web video in my apartment while I was making it (seriously, December was truly bananas) gobbled up the paté that didn’t fit into my serving dish.

It was so awesome finally being able to put faces to bloggers! Hopefully there will be more meet ups in the future. Unfortunately I had to peace out a little early because I had to run and catch The Food Monster on his last night in town before he moved out of L.A. I can pretty much guarantee the vegan blogging community will not miss you one bit my offensive friend, but I, for one, have cried myself to sleep every night since you left. At least we didn’t have to have a teary goodbye on The Food Monster’s last night in town as we met up mere days later at my favorite karaoke spot in North Carolina. Good times, good times.

A Mighty-O Surprise!
Ever since I heard about Mighty-O Donuts in Seattle about a year ago, I have been gushing about wanting to try to them to my friend Leif, a Seattle native. When I got back to L.A. for my one day between trips right before New Year’s, Leif dropped by my house with a surprise: TWO DOZEN MIGHTY-O DONUTS and an ADORABLE Mighty-O t-shirt!!! Happy New Year to me! I could barely manage to snap this photo of the donuts before I tore into them. There was a vast assortment of flavors including lemon poppy seed (my personal favorite), chocolate coconut, plain, chocolate glazed, chocolate peanut, cinnamon sugar (my second favorite), and sprinkle.

Holy cannoli these were so friggin’ good. Many regular donuts (i.e. not cake-style) are actually inherently vegan but cake donuts are not, so it has been a long while since I’ve had the joy of stuffing a scrumptious cake donut into my head. This was the perfect treat at the perfect time– I stuffed these into my car for the second leg of my holiday vacation to Las Vegas and Mammoth and they managed to continue feeding me and my passengers for the next 5 days! I was shocked how long the shelf life of these babies were, especially since they don’t have preservatives. I mean they didn’t taste 100% fresh after a week (Leif got them to me two days after he bought them) but they still tasted great and not at all stale. Everyone who tried the donuts could not believe they were vegan, which is the ultimate test of how good your vegan product is. It’s probably a pretty good thing we don’t have a Mighty-O in L.A., elst I might pack on a few hundred more pounds. Thanks Leify!!!!


An Awesome Vegan Cheesecake

My boyfriend and I had our own post-Christmas Christmas dinner since we weren’t in the same state for the actual day. He volunteered to make dessert and found a recipe for a vegan cheesecake. I must admit, I was a little skeptical about whether or not he could pull it off. He literally had never baked anything before in his life. He had to call me a couple times for some clarification (what’s a water bath? how do you zest a lemon?) but that damn cheesecake came out perfectly! He smashed up some blackberries and picked up a can of Soy Whip whipped cream for toppings. He even made the crust from scratch! I was very, very impressed. If you are looking for a good vegan cheesecake recipe, I totally recommend this one.

Veg food in Mammoth Lakes
The last leg of my holiday tour took me and the bf to Mammoth for a few days of snowboarding. I was fully prepared to be able to eat pretty much nothing both on the slopes and in the town, and had packed an arsenal of Lara Bars and other goodies to keep me fed, but was pleasantly surprised to find that Mammoth is very vegan friendly! I was shocked when we stopped to rest at Mill Cafe on the mountain in between runs and found vegetarian chili. Usually ski lodges are about as veg-friendly as ballparks (although Dodger stadium actually is veg-friendly, you know what I mean–like most other baseball stadiums). We asked if they could pour our chili over an order of fries and that was basically the best idea of all time. I couldn’t think of a more perfect snack to warm me up and give me an energy boost than those delicious chili fries. I don’t know if they have that chili at all of Mammoth’s food spots, so be sure to check before you ski down there.
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We also had a super excellent meal at a Mexican joint in town called Gomez’s. We both ordered the Grande Veggie Burrito which was filled with super fresh veggies and was surprisingly light for being a pretty ginormous burrito. Their complimentary chips and salsa were pretty much the best I’ve ever had. The chips were so light and non-greasy somehow. It was one of the best Mexican meals I’ve had.

Everyone can now Comment 🙂
It was brought to my attention (thank you, Foodeater!) that my blog was set so that only people with gmail accounts could post comments. I had no idea! Oooooops. I have changed the setting so now everyone should be able to comment away!


It’s detox time!
In February of last year, Kirby Von Scrumptious and I did a 28 day detox that was pretty difficult but was really great as it makes you feel really fantabulous. As I am already vegan, the detox just requires that I don’t have any white flour, wheat, refined sugar, salt, caffeine, or alcohol. It may not sound too difficult but trust me, after a week with no flour, you start having dreams about eating 45 bags of plain tortillas. I had started the detox but then got derailed two days in to it (woops!) so I am starting again tomorrow. And now I have to. Because it is published. on the web. its official. see? Anyway, look out for a lot of healthy posts from me in the near future!

HAPPY NEW YEAR!