Mini Chocolate Raspberry Surprise Cupcakes with Chocolate Avocado Frosting

One of my favourite desserts to make for parties and family get-togethers are these mini cupcakes. They are great to serve on the dessert table or when you have an event where you need to bring-a-plate. They look quite impressive and plentiful and everyone will be happy they got to try one.

This recipe is a hybrid between Chloe Coscarelli’s Yoga Cupcakes (Chloe’s Vegan Desserts) and Angela Lidden (The Oh She Glows Cookbook) Chocolate Avocado Frosting. I cook a lot from both of these books. So I often take inspiration from these recipes and make them mine own. I have used the Chocolate Avocado Frosting to make Angela’s Double Layer Chocolate Fudge cake. It was so lovely, moist and decadent. I found that it goes perfectly with these cupcakes. Everyone who has tried them can not tell that it’s not a traditional frosting and that it has avocado and no icing sugar. I usually have heaps leftover, so I enjoy it as a chocolate mousse dessert when everyone goes home.

The photos of these cupcakes are from Octavia’s first birthday.  They were one of a few different vegan dessert options. I made the Cupcakes, Vanilla Star Cookies, Cherry Hand Pies, Buckeyes. The Baklava was made by a friend and the Strawberry Shortcake Cake with Buttercream with made by Cloverly Cupcakes. The cake was tasted amazing and was huge. What I love about their vegan cupcakes and cakes is that they are made from wholemeal flour, organic raw sugar and natural, non-processed ingredients where possible. This was a little while ago so it won’t be long until I have to do this all again for her second birthday.

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Eating through New Orleans

New Orleans is famous for many things and the food is definitely one of them. The New Orleans cuisine is largely influenced by Creole cuisine, Cajun cuisine, and soul food. There are so many famous New Orleans dishes that I wanted to try. Some of these include Crawfish Étouffée, Gumbo, Jambalaya, Oysters Rockefeller, Po’ boy, Red beans and rice and Shrimp Creole. So many dishes and only a couple of days to try what I could. Health and good food choice went out the window completely in New Orleans. I didn’t find anything organic, vegan, local or sustainable in this city. I’m sure it was out there, but I was more focused on finding the restaurants with the best examples of New Orleans cuisine. With a bit more time I probably would have liked to sample the best of both worlds. Well, I think I would have too because this food is so heavy and hearty but not something I could eat every day. 

What’s your favourite New Orleans classic?

Drago’s Seafood Restaurant

When we arrived our Uber driver recommended the best places he loves to eat New Orleans cuisine. He recommended Drago’s Seafood Restaurant and Mothers Restaurant (below). So our first stop was Dragos. The location we visited was situated in the Hilton Hotel. The menu is so extensive. They specialize in seafood, so they everything you could want to try in New Orleans.We loved it so much we went back again.

My favourite dish was the Charbroiled Oysters. I’d never had oysters prepared this way and the others were oyster virgins. We are all converts now. They are so delicious and the buttery sauce was so amazing and you just want to dip every last morsel of bread into it. The Po’boy was huge. I’d never had catfish and it was nice, as were the lobster lollipops. On my second visit tried Mama Ruth’s Seafood Gumbo was really good despite the appearance. You expect for it to taste really like seafood but it was very smokey and rich. The brownie was not mine and I just cringe at the sight of the mountain of whipped cream. Marco said it was good though.

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dsc06717Hot Brownie à la Mode

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Eating from Boston to Cambridge

If you’re a foodie, Boston is definitely a place you want to visit. They are known for their fresh seafood, New England classics and Bostonian dishes, such as Clam Chowder, Scrod, Raw Oysters, Baked Beans, Cannoli and Boston Cream Pie. If your health conscious, vegan or vegetarian there are also plenty of cafes and restaurants that are focused on organic, local and sustainable food.

We only had a couple of days to see Boston and the Harvard, Cambridge, so we tried as much local cuisine as we could. It was really nice to try some of Bostons finest foods, by cooks and chefs that make everything traditionally and in-house with New England ingredients. There was so much we didn’t get to try, so I would definitely go back to eat everything thing else I missed.

Have you been to Boston and Cambridge? What were your favourite foods?

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Zucchini Pancakes

Pancakes are one of those meals that you can whip up anytime when you don’t have much on hand. I prefer to eat savoury pancakes unless  I am having them for dessert or second breakfast. My daughter absolutely loves pancakes. It’s one of the few things that she will eat on her own in it’s entirely. Luckily she hasn’t experienced the sweet side of pancakes yet and prefers to eat even plain pancakes with peanut butter.

This recipe is a quick one that is stuffed with fresh zucchini and lightly spiced with cumin. It’s great for picky eaters who won’t even notice the taste of the zucchini (they may notice the flex of green though). But as long as it tastes good there’s no harm right!

I served these pancakes for a quick dinner with sauteed paprika corn, avocado, and cherry tomatoes. They would also be nice with salsa or tomato relish, a side salad and guacamole.

Zucchini Pancakes

(vegetarian, dairy free, nut free, vegan option)

Ingredients:

1 cup grated zucchini

1 cup unbleached plain flour or light spelt lflour

1.5 tsp baking powder

1.5 tsp ground cumin

1/2 tsp Himalayan sea salt

1 egg or 1 flax egg

1 cup plant milk, preferably unsweetened

freshly cracked black pepper

olive oil to cook

Method: 

1.Grate the zucchini. Squeeze out the moisture from the zucchini. I used a few paper towels to do this.

2. Combine the flour, baking powder, cumin and sea salt in a mixing bowl and whisk.

3. In a separate bowl beat the egg, add the milk and whisk.

4. Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture and whisk until smooth.

5. Stir in the zucchini and cracked black pepper.

6. Heat a crepe maker, cast iron pan or nonstick pan and add olive oil to coat.

7. Cook each pancake for a couple of minutes on one side and when bubbles start to form, flip over on the other side for another minute or until cooked through.

* Makes 4 big pancakes

 

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Chocolate Berry Overnight Oats

In this hot Australian summer the last thing you want to eat is a hot bowl of oats at the moment. I prefer to soak the oats overnight and enjoy them chilled the next morning. Overnight oats are one of the quickest and easiest breakfast to make. They are great for busy people who don’t have time to make breakfast.

To make overnight oats you only need to combine a few ingredients in a sealed container. Then place in the fridge overnight and enjoy the next day (or at least 4-5 hours later).

To prepare overnight oats you just need these few ingredients:

  • rolled oats, with or without chia seeds mixed in
  • plant-based milk
  • mashed banana/frozen berries/coconut yogurt
  • any spices or other fruit (dried/fresh)
  • sweetener such as maple syrup, agave or honey

There are so many flavour combinations you can make. Chocolate Berry Overnight Oats is one of my recipes. The cacao gives a slight caffeine hit to wake you up and the berries are full of antioxidants. If you find your oats aren’t as sweet as you may like, then hold off adding the sweetener until you just about to eat it them.

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Eating through NYC

When I was planning my trip to New York City I was a bit nervous what exactly I was going to eat over there. I try to stick to a lifestyle diet of mostly vegetarian, unprocessed, organic and chemical free food.  I also had my toddler with me, who is preferring more and more to only eat the same food as me, rather than her organic baby food. Friends had told me how it’s nearly impossible to find healthy unprocessed food in America, particularly New York. However, once I did a bit of research I found there were so many of delicious options available that were healthy and less processed. There some more indulgent options that are made by artisans from scratch.  New York is Foodie Mecca! Here are some of the most delicious meals I had while eating through New York City.

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By Chef Chloe

Last year for my 30th birthday present I went on a trip America! I have always dreamed of going to New York and it really was as amazing as I thought. We spent a week there, sight seeing, eating and walking, so much walking. One of the places at the top of my list was to visit Chloe Coscarelli’s restaurant By Chloe. I have been a fan of hers for a long time and own all three of her books that I cook from regularly.

Chloe Coscarelli first shot to fame when she won a culinary competition with her vegan cupcake on the Food Network’s reality series Cupcake Wars, back in 2010. Since then she has published three vegan cookbooks: Chloe’s Kitchen (2012); Chloe’s Vegan Desserts(2013) & Chloe’s Vegan Italian Kitchen (2014). In 2015 she opened her first restaurant, by CHLOE, in New York City. She currently has three locations in New York, one in Los Angeles and is set to roll out more locations in New York and Boston.

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I can’t remember exactly how I came across her first book, but I fell in love with the easy to prepare delicious plant-based recipes. Not long after I purchased her dessert book, which I regularly use when entertaining friends. It was a dream come true when she brought out her vegan Italian cookbook. Coming from an Italian background myself I really loved the veganised versions of classic Italian dishes as well as some more inventive recipes using Italian ingredients.

While in New York we visited By Chloe in the West Village on Bleeker Street. This street has so many amazing restaurants, but one of the busiest by far was By Chloe. We arrived for a late afternoon lunch and there was a line to the door. This line didn’t get shorter the entire duration of our visit. We were lucky enough to grab a table in the limited dining room and enjoy the hustle and bustle of this busy little restaurant. The menu includes a range of burgers, salads, pasta, fries, juices, ice creams, and desserts.

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We ordered the Classic and Guac Burger, Sweet potato fries and the Kale Caesar Salad. They were all really delicious. The Guac was a little better than the Classic, as I think it was put together in a rush. However, with the addition of the free dipping sauces (yes free!) it was saved. I think incredibly delicious dipping sauces were Chipotle Mayo and Beetroot Ketchup. The salad again was perfection. It had smoky shiitake mushrooms, crunchy croutons, a well-balanced dressing and ‘parmesan’ crumbs.

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After that, we went back for desserts. There was a big selection, I wish I could have tried one of each. We got the Chocolate Chip Cookie, Raspberry Cupcake, Cloiser Chloe Cupcake and Kale Cookies & Cream Ice cream. They all tasted as good as they looked. The ice cream was also a nice surprise. I didn’t know what to expect but it didn’t really taste like kale.

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If you get the chance I really recommend you stop in at By Chloe. Like my partner, if you not vegan I still think you will enjoy it. If you are vegan, vegetarian or a health conscious eater you will definitely really love the abundance to healthy delicious food. By Chloe is not only 100% vegan but it is also 100% GMO free and uses organic, seasonal, and locally sourced ingredients.

Moo Free Burgers

Finally a completely plant based burger joint has opened up in Brisbane! Moo Free Burgers is the new creation of the people behind Charlies Fruit MarketCharlie’s Raw Squeeze and Veganyumm Bakery. I am lucky enough to live right up the road from these three gems , so whenever we need extra groceries or have a craving for a fresh juice, indulgent smoothie or cheeky brownie we drive five mins and our wishes are answered. One of the perks of moving to the northside of Brisbane. Moo Free Burgers is a little further away in North Lakes. However it will coincides well with our trips up to Costco or Ikea.

Moo Free Burgers is situated in a small complex, shares its space with another Charlie’s Raw Squeeze. So while tucking into a burger and chips you can also have a nice healthy drink and dessert. It also has a great play room for little ones, so its a great family friendly place.

The menu is quite extensive, including breakfast, sides, a kids menu and a crazy monster burger challenge. As for the burgers themselves, there are eight to choose from, 4 different sliders, three different burger buns and and extra ingredients to add. On the side you can order potato and sweet potato chips and dips to dunk them in. The menu is completely vegan, dairy free and also has gluten free options. Its like a vegan version of the popular burger chain, Grill’d and just as tasty.

I ordered the VBD “Vegan Brothers Delight”. It included a Moofree Burger pattie, Rasher’s (faken bakon), Cheeze, Carmelized Onions, Tomato, Lettuce and Mustard Mayo. I paired it with a side of Beer Battered Potato Chips. It was better then I thought it was going to be. Ok, obviously it doesn’t taste the same as a beef burger with bacon but it was a pretty good alternative. Even Marco approved, although he didn’t order his own, since he had already eaten. The chips were just as good as our favourite Grill’d ones. As for the dips I didn’t get one today since I wasn’t really sharing. My only con was that the Mustard Mayo was squeezing out everywhere, so it got a bit messy. It was also a really big meal for a small girl to eat, so it would definitely would satisfy any big bloke.

While I was tucking into my giant meal, Marco and Octavia were sharing a spectacular looking smoothie from Charlie’s Raw Squeeze. It was the Salted Caramel Loaded Smoothie. There were both really enjoying it and after tasting it I could see why they were both eager for me to give it back.

So if you live in the area or going up north for a visit I recommend you try Moo Free Burgers. You don’t have to be vegan to enjoy their food, just hungry.

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Summer Bean Dips

If you in Australia in the moment your either sweating it out or chilling in the air-con. This summer has been pretty brutal. I just got back from Melbourne, which was surprisingly some what worse than Brisbane. In this heat its difficult to think of something quick to cook that won’t heat up your insides. I prefer to make bean dips, which are quick and easy to put together and are a filling meat-free alternative. I like to have them on top of a veggie bowl, a salad, in a wrap or with tortilla chips. These are a few of my go-to bean dips.

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Sprouted Chickpea Peanut Butter Hummus

(vegan, raw, gluten free, soy free)

Ingredients:

1 cup sprouted chickpeas

2 garlic cloves (crushed)

3-4 tablespoons peanut butter

3 tablespoons lemon juice

4 tablespoons olive oil

3 tablespoons filtered water

2 tablespoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon sweet hungarian paprika

1 teaspoon ground coriander

sea salt to taste

Method:

1. Place chickpeas into the processor. Blend until they break down a little.

2. Add the remaining ingredients. Continue to blend until smooth and creamy.

*Makes 1 cup

 

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Red Capsicum & Green Lentil Hummus

(vegan, gluten free, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

2 capsicums

4 cloves garlic

1 cup green lentils (3 cups cooked)

2 tablespoons unhulled tahini

2/3 cup olive oil

1 tablespoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

3 tablespoons nutritional yeast

sea salt to taste

Method:

1. Place the lentils in a pot of water, bring to the boil then cook on a simmer till ready. Should take less then 30mins if presoaked.

2. Roast 2 capsicums and garlic in the oven until the skin of capsicum has blackened.

3, Peel skin from the capsicum and roughly chop.

4. In the processor add green lentils, roasted capsicum and garlic.

5. While the processor is on add the rest of the ingredients.

*Makes about 3.5 cups.

 

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Cheesy Brown Lentil Hummus 

(vegan, gluten free, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

1 cup cooked small brown lentils

2 small cloves of garlic

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons tahini

1/2 cup italian parsley

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon curry powder

2 tablespoons nutritional yeast

sea salt to taste

black sesame seeds to garnish (optional)

Method:

1. Place brown lentils and garlic in the processor and blend.

2. While its processing add olive oil and tahini.

3. Then add italian parsley and continue to blend.

4. While its still processing add garlic powder, curry powder, nutritional yeast and sea salt.

5. Once  all the ingredients have broken down in a dip, serve and top with black sesame seeds.

*Makes 2 cups

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Lime spiked Black bean and Beetroot Dip 

(vegan, gluten free, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

2 cups cooked black beans

1 large clove of garlic

1 cup grated beetroot

juice from 1.5 limes

1 tablespoon ground cumin

1 tablespoon onion flakes (or onion powder)

1/2 tablespoon smoked paprika

ground cayenne pepper to taste

sea salt to taste

1 cup loosely packed coriander leaves

Method:

1. Place black beans, garlic, beetroot and lime juice in a high speed blender or processor. Blend until smooth.

2. Add the spices and sea salt to taste and blend through.

3. Lastly add the coriander and pulse till it has broken down a little, but so you can still see specs of green through the dip.

*Makes 2 cups

The best Tofu Scramble

One of our favourite recipes that is always appears on our breakfast table at least once to twice a week is Tofu Scramble. Everyone loves this recipe. My partner Marco is always requesting it and Octavia also loves her ‘tofa’ as well. In fact when I make this recipe this is the only thing on that table she will eat. Its so cute seeing her stuffing her face with tofu. If you don’t eat eggs or just want a healthy hearty breakfast or lunch option this is a great recipe to have up your sleeve.

I published the recipe Tofu Scramble with Sun-dried Tomatoes and Kale a while back on my old blog. It is adapted from Kris Carr’s Tofu Country Scramble from her cook book Crazy Sexy Kitchen.

Over the past few years I have tried many different versions of tofu scramble from different vegan and vegan friendly cafes. However something was always off. They were too watery or not flavoursome enough. I don’t even order it anymore because none compete with this recipe.

The key ingredients that make this recipe great is the firmness of the tofu, the zing of the sun-dried tomatoes, the flavour of the tamari, the aroma and colour of the turmeric and savoury taste of the nutritional yeast. With these components you can pair it any type of onion or shallot, any leafy green, mushrooms or other veggies you have on hand. If your not familiar with these ingredients you can find them in your grocery store health food aisle or any good health food shop.

We usually serve Tofu Scramble with toasted sourdough with avocado and some black sesame seeds. I recommend you try this recipe with your family and see if they prefer this over traditional scrambled eggs. I can tell you with personal experience that I have served both side by side and everyone preferred this dish.

Tofu Scramble with Sun-dried Tomatoes and Kale

(vegan, gluten free, nut free)

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 medium red onion, diced

2-3 shallots, diced

10-12 sun-dried tomatoes, diced

500 g medium-firm organic tofu (pressed and crumbled or cubed)

1 large handful of curly kale, roughly chopped

2 tablespoons gluten free organic soy sauce

1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric

3 heaped tablespoons nutritional yeast

sea salt & black pepper to taste

Method:

1. Heat a pan with olive oil  on a medium heat. Then sauté the red onion and shallots for a couple of minutes before adding sun-dried tomatoes. Continue to sauté till the onions start to soften.

2. Add the crumbled tofu and sauté for another couple of minutes until the tofu starts to brown a little.

3. Add the kale, soy sauce, turmeric and nutritional yeast, sea salt & black pepper and cook until the kale has wilted.  Serve immediate.

*Serves 4

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