My Beautiful Cousin and the I-Hate-My-Downstairs-Neighbor-Tart

The other day, I got into an argument with my downstairs neighbor. I’m not big on arguments, so it was pretty uncomfortable. I live in an old house built circa 1920. It was converted into 4 apartments in the 1970’s. I have lived here almost 4 years, longer than any of the other tenants. It’s a quirky place to say the least, tucked above some old store fronts on Sunset Blvd in Echo Park. About 2 years ago, I decided to start a small compost heap. I live upstairs, so I picked a spot under my stairs (which are outside of course) for the heap. It has been living as a happy heap of decomposing fruits, veggies, dirt and some dog poop for the past couple of years.

Then, the other day, I suddenly found a giant plastic pot sitting directly on top of the compost. I moved the pot from atop the heap several times, only to find it right back on top of the heap every day. This was my neighbor’s passive-aggressive way of expressing her disapproval of the compost. SIGH. Oh and I forgot to mention that the plant inside the pot was a small dead palm. I have a lil bit of green thumb. I know a dead plant when I see one, and it’s going to take a miracle to bring that poor palm back to life. Anyhow, I looked inside of the pot and the palm was just sitting atop some soil. It wasn’t buried or really “planted”….just sitting in there. Anyhow, to make a long story short (because it’s too long already!) my neighbor came out and an argument ensued over these issues. My neighbor was very unwilling to hear anything I had to say, which is just frustrating when you’re trying to explain your point of view to someone. So, I told her that I was going to go back indoors if we couldn’t come to some kind of agreement regarding her continually placing her dead plant on top of my compost heap. It turned out that her issue was regarding the smell and attraction of flies. I told her she just needed to come upstairs to let me know it needed some dirt cover and I’d be happy to oblige. This was when she responded with “I never see you” in the snottiest way possible… know…..because it’s not like I live DIRECTLY ABOVE HER. Double SIGH. Basically, this is just an unhappy and unfriendly human being who feels like it’s too much to talk to a neighbor over something that was bothering her. I’m not even angry anymore, well, because if that’s the way you are, then I really just feel sorry for you. Good luck at having successful relationships in the future….bitch. –I know, I know, I had to!

Moving right along, I decided to bake this tart:

I hate my downstairs neighbor Pear Tart!

In the spirit of the film Waitress, I decided to pour my anger and hate for this awful neighbor into this pear tart, a recipe that I adapted from The Gluttonous Vegan. I also knew that I was going to visit my cousin, who is battling lung cancer. I decided that I would share the story and the tart and that we could have a nice visit and enjoy ourselves laughing about my idiot neighbor. And we did. And then we watched Rio. Awesome day. 🙂

My beautiful and amazing cousin!

I love, love, love my cousin!

*Also, for the record, all of my other neighbors are lovely and now I appreciate how great they are even more! Thank you other neighbors who are nice and not jerks!

This Cake is a Lie

This past weekend, a good friend of mine got married. The event was called “My Big Fat Geek Wedding” and was a themed/costume wedding. I was a bridesmaid, dressed as Nausicaa, from Hayao Miyazaki’s Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind. If you’ve never heard of or seen this movie, it’s fantastic and a must see. I’m not much into anime, but I adore Miyazaki. Nausicaa is one of my personal favorites. Here she is:

Nausicaa w/ Teto on her shoulder

Here’s me! I’ll post a better photo once the professional wedding pics are  posted, but I’m the 3rd from the left, in between David Bowie and Hermione Granger. And yes, that is Teto on my shoulder!

Bridesmaids + David Bowie

Along with being a bridesmaid, I had some added food responsibilities. I was originally supposed to aid in making the main wedding cake, but there was a change of plans and I focused on a few things:

1. Creating edible “Nyan Cat” wedding decorations for the main wedding cake, modeled after the bride and groom’s kitties, Daisy and Mia.

2. Creating a not gross soy-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free cake modeled after the “Portal 2” cake.

3. Making last minute black bean and sweet potato tamales w/ the groom, the groom’s brother and the groom’s father.

I really wasn’t familiar with the Nyan Cat meme or with Portal 2 the game. I had to google these things, but I worked my hardest to come up with something that the bride would be happy with.

Here are my Nyan Cats. They are vegan, filled w/ chocolate soy pudding and the kitty heads, feet, tails are made of marzipan rather than fondant.

Daisy and Mia Nyan Cat Poptarts

Originally, the cake was supposed to be larger, but a last minute decision was made to scale down the cake and make cupcakes. I think that was a great idea and ultimately I think it worked much better than having a huge tiered cake, but that explains why my Nyan cats are a lil bit big. The grey kitty represents Mia, the black kitty represents Daisy. They were most definitely not perfect, but this was the first time I had ever made anything like this, so I think they turned out okay.

Here is what I am really proud of, the allergy free Portal 2 cake:

The Cake is a Lie: Portal 2 Cake

Probably not the best photo, but this cake was 100% vegan as well as both gluten and soy free. I had never done a gluten-free, soy-free, vegan cake and was very nervous as to how it would turn out. I imagined it tasting chalky or being too dry….flavorless or too crumbly….I was also really worried about both of the cakes melting in the heat. The wedding was held outdoors on Sunday and unfortunately it was very hot and humid. Both of the cakes held up VERY well though, much better than I expected.

And…the Portal 2 cake was outstanding. I really don’t mean to brag, but this thing tasted insane for being made of nothing. It was very moist and had good flavor and texture. It was a bit more delicate than cakes that contain gluten, but held together and didn’t fall apart when sliced. I was so happy that the people who had food allergies were able to enjoy dessert. A really super sweet guy who did the music made my day by complimenting the cake. He is allergic to gluten and was like yes! I get to have cake! I never get to have cake! Haha, I can identify with him because most of the desserts and cakes at the events I attend are not vegan, unless I make one and bring it 😉 So, I was thrilled to death that people enjoyed the cake. I feel compelled to share the recipe, as this should be everyone’s go-to cake for people with food allergies. I did throw a lil almond milk in there, but I’m sure rice milk would work too and then the cake would be 100% allergy free with no dairy, eggs, soy, gluten or nuts. I call it the:

Portal 2 -Zooey Deschanel- Super Chocolate-Allergy-Free Cake for Everyone

Yields One 9″ cake or a dozen cupcakes, double recipe if making  layer cake or bundt.


1 c almond milk or other non-dairy milk

1 tsp apple cider vinegar

3/4 c non-bleached granulated cane sugar

1/3 c canola oil

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp chocolate extract

1 c all-purpose gluten-free flour

1 tsp xanthan gum

1/3 c cocoa powder

3/4 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp non-bleached sea salt


Preheat oven to 350°F

Spray a 9″ cake pan w/ non-stick cooking or baking spray, or line a muffin tin w/ liners.

Mix together the non-dairy milk and apple cider vinegar. Set aside for a few minutes to curdle. Add the sugar, canola oil, extracts and whisk until bubbles start to form or it looks foamy.

In a separate mixing bowl, sift together the dry ingredients: gf-ap-flour, xanthan gum cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the non-dairy milk mixture. Beat until there are no large lumps. Pour your batter into the prepared cake pan and bake for 22-24 min, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Transfer to cooling rack and let cool for a little while before trying to remove the cake.

Allergy Free Chocolate Frosting


1/2 c Soy Free Earth Balance

1/2 c cocoa powder

2 1/2 c confectioner’s sugar

3 tbsp almond milk or other non-dairy milk or non-dairy creamer

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp chocolate extract


Beat Earth Balance in your Kitchenaid or with a hand held mixer until it’s creamy–this won’t take long. The soy free Earth Balance is much softer than the original kind. Add cocoa and beat until well incorporated. Add powdered sugar, about 1/2 c at a time and continue to beat that in until you’ve reached about 2 1/2 c–adding the non-dairy milk in between scoops of sugar. Lastly, add the vanilla and chocolate extracts and continue to beat for a few additional minutes.


*The chocolate chips used to decorate the cake are Enjoy Life brand.  It’s pretty difficult to find soy-free chocolate and they were the only chips I could find that were certified allergy free. It worked out though, because the chips are really delicious. Try them if you need allergy free chocolate!

Peaches & Cream + Strawberries & Cream = Mouthgasm.

How are you today? Personally, I had a wretched day so I decided to do a late night post about a cobbler. Bad day make me sad panda. Cobbler make me happy! And foxes. These foxes make me VERY happy.

Can't. Stand. The. Cute.

I somehow clicked my way to a really great blog called Eat the Love. I don’t know much about it yet, but it seems to be written by an intelligent, talented and creative award-winning baker named Irvin. He has a handful of vegan recipes for what sound like some incredible treats and a plethora of mouth-watering gourmet sounding desserts and sweets. Anyhow, I’m sure I’ll learn more about him and his blog as I follow it, but basically I love him already.

I found this recipe for Peach, Strawberry and Cream Cobbler with pieces of Crystallized Ginger. The original recipe wasn’t vegan, but I only had to sub out a few things. The result was a cobbler to die for. I’m talking serious mouthgasms people. Like, I took a bite a quickly went to another place where there were a lot of rainbows and unicorns. And Bill Hader. He was also there because I heart him.

Peaches, strawberries, cream and a touch of ginger

This cobbler is luscious! Luscious I say! I decided to use a combination of yellow peaches from my peach tree and white peaches from the farmers market. A wise choice, a wise choice. The recipe called for a bigger baking dish, but I don’t have a nice looking 9X13, so I squeezed this recipe into a slightly smaller dish than needed and it still worked out very well for me. The biscuit topping baked up perfectly as well, slightly crunchy/crispy top with moist, fluffy biscuit underneath. Mix some of that good stuff up with the filling and let your eyes roll back in your head.

Ginger Peach and Strawberry Cream Cobbler

Veganized from Eat the Love

Filling Ingredients:
3 lbs ripe peaches or nectarines (I used white & yellow peaches)
1lb of strawberries, hulled and cut into halves or quartered if large
1/4 c crystallized ginger
1/4 c Alter Eco Golden Brown Mascobado Sugar
2 tsp Arrowroot
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
8oz of vegan cream cheese (I used Follow Your Heart brand)
1 c unbleached cane sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp of almond extract
1 tsp of cinnamon
4 tsp Ener-G Brand Egg Replacer
1/2 c coconut milk creamer (I love So Delicious brand)
Biscuit Topping Ingredients:
2 ccunbleached AP flour
1/4 c plus 2 tbsp unbleached cane sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
10 Tbsp cold Non-hydrogenated, non-dairy margarine (I used Earth Balance) Coconut Oil or the new Earth Balance Coconut Spread may work too. Don’t refrigerate your coconut oil. Ever.
2/3 c coconut milk yogurt (I used So Delicious vanilla flavor)
*Optional- You can also leave the sugar out if you’d like to sprinkle some of top of the cobbler. I didn’t do this, but I’m sure it would be a delicious addition.
Preheat the oven to 425˚F.
Peel and cut the peaches into slices no bigger than 1/2″. If you’re not sure how to peel a peach, don’t worry, it’s easy! Just boil some water and blanch the peaches. The skins will slip right off. Combine the peaches, strawberries, ginger, golden brown sugar, arrowroot and lemon juice in a bowl. Set aside to macerate.
Beat the vegan cream cheese in your Kitchenaid or with a hand mixer until it’s smooth. This will only take a minute or so. Add the cane sugar, vanilla extract, almond extract, cinnamon and beat until the mixture is fluffy. Add the Ener-G Egg Replacer and mix until incorporated
Go back to the bowl of peaches and measure out 1/8 cup of the juices from the bowl. Drain the remaining juice out of the fruit through a strainer or colander. Then add the fruit to your baking dish. Beat the reserved 1/8 cup juice into the  vegan cream cheese, and then beat in the coconut milk creamer until just incorporated. Pour the cream cheese mixture over the peaches and strawberries and put in the oven for 20 minutes uncovered. You may need to to put the cobbler on a rimmed baking sheet or line the bottom of your oven with an old cooking/baking sheet. Since I used a smaller dish, I had some drippage. I was prepared though, so it wasn’t really too much mess.
Take a small break (Irvin suggests you wash some dishes in this time and I agree!) Then make the biscuit topping.
In a large bowl, mix the dry ingredients together (flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt). Spoon the Earth Balance into the bowl using a tbsp. If you have the Earth Balance sticks, cut them into 1/4″ or so pieces.Use a pastry cutter/whisk and cut in the Earth Balance until the mixture starts to resemble coarse meal. Alternatively, you can do this in a food processor. I like to make dough by hand, though. Fold in the yogurt and mix until a dough starts to form. As usual, be careful not to overmix. Divide the dough into about ten or twelve 1/4 cup chunks.
Once the 20 minutes are up, pull the baking dish out of the oven and evenly distribute the biscuit dough on top leaving about 1/2” space between the dough pieces. Ideally, you don’t want the dough pieces to touch one another, but mine were all kinds of close and touchy feely because of my choice to use a smaller dish. It was not a problem for me. Now, you can sprinkle that optional sugar on top that we discussed earlier. If you’re not using the sugar, just pop this baby in the oven for another 18-20 minutes or until the biscuits are golden brown and the filling is bubbling.
Cool and serve warm.

Probably shouldn’t have used my yellow bowl for this picture, but oh well. Hope it still looks good because it tasted amazing. Thank you Irvin for the amazing recipe and inspiration! Go check out his blog if you have a minute. 🙂

Earl Grey Cupcakes w/ Lavender Buttercream

Go on over to the lovely Alicia’s blog, Poise in Parma and check out my guest post featuring these Earl Grey Cupcakes w/ Lavender Buttercream and the rest of her very awesome blog!

Earl Grey Cupcake w/ Lavender Buttercream

Las Vegas and the Maple-“Bacon” Cupcake

Hi. Hi there. I just got back from a quick weekend in Las Vegas. Before you go getting ideas I was there visiting some very good friends who live there. We had a lovely time together hanging out, eating, hiking and more eating!

My friends frequent a mystical place known as Mt. Charleston which is right outside of Vegas. Supposedly there is this place just a wee bit out of town boasting temps that dip below the triple digits and trees and greenery are abundant…what?!? Near Vegas?!? Since they always have such good things to say about this so called “Mt. Charleston”, I asked if we could maybe go hiking there. My friends obliged and were happy to take me on a quest for the perfect Saturday afternoon hike. Guess what? We found it! The way up was not only gorgeous, but was a nice ride. No winding roads or dramamine needed = awesome.

After we passed through the desert, which is very beautiful itself, we started seeing more bushes…then shrubs….then…..trees! It was pretty magical. In just a few minutes the landscape turned from Joshua trees and sand, to firs, pines, cedars, with large rocky mountain sides and sprawling green meadows in between breaks in the forest. The temperature went from over 100°F to just around 76°F, which was so refreshing from the heat. The hike was great. Beautiful scenery, good company and great exercise.

I hope you enjoyed those photos because I enjoyed taking them 🙂

One other thing happened in Vegas that was of major importance slash significance; The [vegan] Maple-Bacon Cupcake was born. In the last few months or years or whatever, I have been hearing of desserts and other treats that have bacon in them. At first, the idea sounded pretty disgusting to me, but recently, I have been reconsidering that notion. I thought that maybe I should try to create a vegan version of such a crazy treat….and the Maple-Bacon Cupcake idea was born. I got all of my ingredients together and brought some supplies to Vegas. I figured since I was visiting beloved friends, I ought to use that opportunity to experiment on them. Insert maniacal laugh. I kid, I kid (or do I?), but really, I can’t make cupcakes without mouths to eat them and several mouths at that. The more mouths the better…but not more than 12 or you won’t get a cupcake. One of my friends was kind enough to be my kitchen assistant and we cooked up some tempeh bacon, made some batter, some icing/frosting–was def a cross between the two– and success!

Maple-Bacon Cupcake.

Those little bits you see in the cake are maple-glazed bits of smokey tempeh bacon! I need to add a little more next time though I think.

Maple Bacon Cupcake Dressed Up w/ Maple Frosting & Bacon Bits

The frosting is maple flavored and I used vegetarian bacon bits rather than tempeh bacon as a garnish. I thought the crunch of the bits would be a nice contrast. I will post the recipe soon, I just want to make a few very small changes. The friends I had test these cupcakes were all omnivores and they really enjoyed them. I was told they have a distinct breakfast-like taste. Someone said they thought of waffles and someone else thought they would be nice at brunch. In any case, I am glad they were enjoyed and I am so happy to have a new and exciting recipe. 🙂

Any strange combinations of foods that catch your fancy?

*The photos of the cupcakes were taken by my awesome friend Amanda Eisenberg of Eisenberg Designs. She’s got one of them fancy cameras for picture shootin’ and things, so I had her take them. Thanks Amanda!

Harry Potter & the Vegan Treatfest.

After 10 years on the big screen, the Harry Potter series has finally reached its end. To commemorate such an epic event, I decided to host a small gathering of friends/fans. I invited everyone over a few hours before we would all have to leave for the midnight showing. I provided drinks and desserts inspired by the magical series.

My super amazing friend Galen gave me the little Potter themed rubber bands to help decorate my table.

table set-up

I also got some HP book marks and tied them to various natural sodas for each guest coming over.

more Potter table

For the treats, I decided on:

Pumpkin Pasties

Chocolate Frogs

Hagrid’s Rock Cakes

Cauldron Cakes

Golden Snitch Cupcakes


Pumpkin/Apple Juice

Golden Snitch Cupcakes

For the Golden Snitch Cupcakes, I did a moist yellow cake that I made extra yellow golden by adding my good friend Turmeric. If you and turmeric are not friends yet, you guys should sit down and get to know one another over some vegan egg salad.

Pumpkin Pasties and Hagrid's Rock Cakes

The Pumpkin Pasties are seen on the left and Hagrid’s Rock Cakes (my personal favorite treat of the night) are on the right.

Pumpkin pasties are so easy to make. We should all be eating them, all the time. I have made them a few times and think I have finally gotten them just the way I want them. What you want to do is make a thick pumpkin filling by using organic canned pumpkin blended with your thickener of choice. I like to use soaked pecans and arrowroot, but you can do whatever combination or single ingredient to your taste. Then you want to add a little sweetener of choice and to your taste- I don’t think pumpkin generally needs a ton of added sweetener because it is already so delicious and sweet as is. Pumpkin is also SO good for you it’s ridiculoos! But I’m going to save my pumpkin lesson for a pumpkin themed post later this fall when they’re in season and I become obsessed with them.

Anywhooo, just add some spices to taste and there you have it…pumpkin pasty filling! The next step is to grab some pie dough, which I hope you made yourself…..and get to pasty making. I make mine empanada style by rolling out my dough and using a biscuit cutter to make small circles. If you don’t have a biscuit cutter or round cookie cutter, grab a pint glass from the cupboard and use the top part as a your cutter. Give your cut circles one extra roll with your rolling pin, add a tsp or two of filling, fold and press the edges together with a fork. Cut a slit in the top for steam, then bake and bam, pasties in your face!

Pasties of the past: From Deathly Hallows Pt. 1
Chocolate Frog and Pumpkin Pasty

Unfortunately, I didn’t get any good shots of the cauldron cakes or drinks. The cauldron cakes were mini chocolate bundt cakes with a chocolate ganache. Whenever I am having people over for food, I always forget to take pictures. I think it’s because I just get so happy to see my awesome friends that I just forget about everything else.

The gathering was marvelous and the film was good too. There were some things that I didn’t exactly like about it, but overall I think it was great and that they really did do the best job they could with converting those amazing and magical books into films. I’m sad to see it end, but now we can all just look forward to a dvd party?!?

If you’ve read the Harry Potter book series, which is your favorite book? Which film is your favorite? Do you think the films do right by the books?


Rainier Cherries at Providence Cherry Farm

I LOVE cherries. Delicious little beautiful wonders. This. This is what I think about cherries.  Certain fruits just have this look to me. The look where if you were on your own….totally in the wild and stumbled upon this fruit for the first time, a cherry, you’d think, “That. I want to put that in my mouth”.

And it turns out, cherries are a swell choice for things you should put in your mouth. Cherries contain athocyanins, which is what makes them so purty. Athocyanins are antioxidants that give cherries, as well as other fruits and plants, their color. Cherries have also been known to help reduce inflammation, lower cholesterol, and there are even rumors afoot that they help keep fat away too.

Pickin' Cherries. Varieties: Sweet Tartarian, Royal Ann, Rainier

Tofu Scallops Wrapped in “Bacon” with Cherry-Tarragon Sauce

Every now and then when I’m feeling fancy, I pull out my copy of Veganize This! By Jenn Shagrin and whip up a batch of her tofu scallops. Tofu scallops?!? What the hell are those? Short answer: Tofu marinated in an ocean-y broth. Ocean-y broth?!? Say what?? Think seaweeds and water and things. If you want more detailed info, get your hands on Jenn’s book. It’s not a great choice for beginning cooks, but if you love food and cookin’, it’s a must have. I have a small cookie cutter that I use to cut my tofu into scallop look-a-likes.

Baked Tofu Scallops Wrapped in "Bacon" w/ Cherry-Tarragon Sauce

I lightly salted and peppered my scallops and peeled some garlic to bake with them. I wrapped them in Lightlife’s Smart Bacon, which I don’t normally use (I like tempeh bacon), but Smart Bacon was perfect for these. I put them on a baking sheet and sprayed them with a very light coating of oil. I baked them for about 25-30 minutes and then served them with the sauce recipe below on a bed of organic whole-wheat linguine. To round out the meal, I should have added a salad, but I was too full.

Cherry-Tarragon Sauce

Adapted from Whole Foods Recipe

1 tbsp refined organic coconut oil, safflower or sunflower oil

2 shallots, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced or very finely chopped

2 tbsp brown rice vinegar or white wine

½ lb cherries, pitted and quartered (about 2 cups)

1 tbsp fresh tarragon, chopped

freshly cracked black pepper, to taste

unbleached sea salt, to taste

Heat skillet over medium heat. Add the shallots and cook until they start to soften. Then, add the garlic. Keep an eye….we all know how fast garlic can burn. Add the vinegar/wine and cherries. Here, you can either cover your skillet and let the cherries cook a few minutes (until they start to become soft) or you can leave the lid off and just cook them a little bit longer. Mix in tarragon and turn off the heat. Add salt and pepper to taste. The sauce is cherry, so it’s supposed to be sweet, so keep that in mind when adding your salt.

If you like a chunky sauce, leave as is. If you like your sauces a little smoother, you can give it a whirl in a food processor or blender. Depending on what kind of skillet or saucepot you’re using, you can also use an immersion blender.

And for dessert…

Rainier Cherry, Lemon and Sweet “Ricotta” Gratin w/Black Pepper & Toasted Almonds

Rainier Cherry, Lemon and Sweet "Ricotta" Gratin w/ Black Pepper & Toasted Almonds

Varieties of cherries I’ve sampled: Bing, Rainier, Royal Ann, Brooks, and Sweet Tartarian Cherries. Which ones have you tried and what are your favorites?

PS. If anyone knows where to find sour cherries in the Los Angeles area, please let me know!

Greetings Bloglings!

Hi there and welcome to this brand new blog!

Food, shenanigans, misadventures, maybe a lil magic, but mostly food. I think that’s what’s about to go on here….I think.

I do hope you’ll join me on this crazy little journey I’m about to make in this here blogosphere. 🙂 Yes. Lots and lots of smiley faces. And hearts. Lots of those too. ❤