Category Archives: Original Recipes

Vegan MoFo 2013 | Post 2: Old School Vegan Mac & Cheese



Long, long ago, in grocery stores very much like our own, aisles weren’t filled with vegan cheese and meat substitutes like they are today. There was no Daiya. Many of us didn’t really know that by soaking and blending cashews you could make cream. Almond milk was a weird thing only available from a few brands. It was rice and soy milk, Follow Your Heart cheeses and a whole lot of “making it work.” This recipe reminds me of living in Pittsburgh, a city that wasn’t very vegan friendly, where I had to make 90% of the food I ate. Yea, I grew up eating Kraft, but I barely remember what that tastes like. This is my comfort mac.


This was the first cheese sauce I learned how to make. I don’t even remember where I found it. Probably VegWeb and later, saw a similar version in Veganomicon. I’ve made this sauce a LOT over the years, and I’ve perfected it. This recipe is what got my partner to go vegan and, let’s be honest, probably fall in love with me, too. When they saw me mixing the dry ingredients and then looked over a few minutes later and saw sauce, they asked me what sort of “magic” I was doing. 

I will tell you right now that taste-wise, this mac & cheese isn’t the best. It’s really good, but it’s not great. I’ve figured out the mac and cheese game and this isn’t the winning recipe. But, if you don’t have cashews, or a blender, or the resources to get fake cheese, this recipe is your best friend. The sauce also makes a good nacho dip if you mix in half a cup of salsa.

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Original Recipe | Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake



My good friend Regina turned 30 this month and when I asked what she wanted for her birthday she jokingly said, “I want a cookie cake.” So I made her a cookie cake. With Oreo frosting and sprinkles, because she is an angelprincess and deserves only the best. I also made guacamole and chips because that is by far the best thing to serve with cake. Or cookies.


This cake is for people who hate baking cakes and make a mess with frosting. It’s pretty easy and only takes a little bit more time than making a batch of cookies. It would also be fun for kids, probably, if you know of any that would enjoy something special. This is also more creative than cupcakes, because aren’t we all getting sick of cupcakes? I’m calling it. 2014: the year of the cookie cake!


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Original Recipe | Malted Strawberries and Cream


Cliché “New York City Moments” kind of make me sick to my stomach, but when I passed a random guy selling cheap cartons of fresh strawberries out of his truck on a side street in Brooklyn , I couldn’t help but think how out of place, and yet “So Brooklyn,” it was (Did you just roll your eyes? Yea, exactly). And I bought 3 lbs. of strawberries without stopping to think about what I’d actually do with them, of course. At the time my plan was “shovel handfuls of strawberries into mouth,” but after downing one of the cartons, I decided to do something a little more creative with the other two.

I’d never had a malted milk shake, and after discovering malted barley powder as a vegan ice cream topping, I’ve been in love with the idea of malt-y desserts. My experience with malt is limited to malt vinegar, which as a proud Marylander I know from dredging Old Bay fries in the stuff. I didn’t have barley malt, so malt vinegar would have to do. And oh, it did.

Tangy strawberries with sweet, rich cashew “whipped cream” served in baked phyllo cups are a fantastic, rich dessert for when you have too many strawberries and want to do something fancy, yet simple. These are perfect for impressing a group!


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Original Recipe | Shiitake Bacon


I was busy prepping for and competing in the second vegan cook-off here last weekend (hors d’oeuvres was the theme) so I sort of dropped the ball with blogging. I made “Bro-stini,” my Bro’d up version of crostini. It was a waffle fry topped with a scoop of buffalo mac and cheese, drizzled with ranch dressing and garnished with shiitake bacon and scallions. I didn’t place, but judge Terri Hope Romero gave me an honorary mention, saying that if my fries weren’t cold (this was served at room temp.), my dish would’ve been awesome. Her kind words were reward enough!

I don’t want to share my buffalo mac recipe just yet, because it needs some tweaking (it wasn’t stick-together-y enough for what I wanted), but I’ll share my shiitake bacon recipe, because that seems to be the hot new thing. These mushroom bits go great with anything that needs a smokey touch. They’re also excellent on their own, and I stood around my kitchen munching on them before I realized I needed to save them for the competition.


Also, I apologize for the shoddy iPhone photos. I didn’t have my fancy camera on me.


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Original Recipe | Chipotle Alfredo


I’d hate to toot my own horn, but toot toot ya’ll! This pasta is delicious! It’s spicy and smokey and creamy and I made it 3 times before I decided it needed to go on the blog. I made the sauce in both a high-powered blender (like a Vitamix or BlendTech), and a regular ol’ food processor and both versions turned out great. The tomatoes add a sweet note and kale is just delicious is anything, but feel free to substitute whatever veggies you love. I added tempeh bacon this time around, but don’t put it in the recipe because it turned out a little too smokey for my taste.


The recipe’s below the cut!

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Original Recipe | Nacho Pizza


Back in February, I went a little pizza crazy. I made cheeseburger pizza, mac & cheese pizza and nacho pizza. My partner posted an iPhone photo of the nacho pizza on tumblr, and a few weeks later the post went viral. My partner ended up with a bunch of messages asking for the recipe, which was surprising because I didn’t think I had done anything that warranted one. I just took nacho ingredients and put them on a pizza. But, for you tumblr folks who were curious, here’s the recipe. I didn’t use vegan sour cream in the original, but added it here. The cheese sauce makes a great queso dip, too!


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Original Recipe | Vegan Buffalo Tempeh Wings With Ranch Dressing


If you’re a vegan who’s dined in NYC recently, you’ve most likely been to Champs in Brooklyn. Champs is a diner-style vegan eatery that serves breakfast all day, has healthy options and is generally quite delicious. The past few months they’ve had buffalo tempeh wings on their menu, and normally I steer clear of tempeh. I almost never cook it because of the bitterness and generally I don’t find that it’s prepared well in restaurants. However, the buffalo tempeh at Champs (Dear Champs, Please put the buffalo tempeh wings on your permanent menu. Love, Elisa), is out of this world. I don’t know how they do it, and when my partner asked me if I could replicate the recipe at home I responded with “Maybe….”


I tried, but I couldn’t quite mimic the tempeh I enjoy so much at Champs. I thought these turned out pretty good, regardless. The ranch dressing was the best I’ve ever made and is definitely worth the time it takes to make rejuvelac (a stinky, cheese-y liquid made from fermenting rye seeds).

Here’s the recipe for both the wings and the ranch dip:

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Original Recipes | Award-Winning Chocturnal Emissions


These suckers won me my first cooking competition, The Skint’s Vegan Bake-Off, at The Bell House in Brooklyn on February 10th. I took home both people’s choice and the grand prize, and let me tell you, both were totally unexpected.

Have you ever made dessert for 250 people before? If you have, you know what a huge undertaking it is. If you haven’t, I wouldn’t suggest it. I made the smart decision of starting these the day before the competition because I wanted them to be fresh (I was paranoid about the pretzels getting soggy, which didn’t end up being a problem). This resulted in me breaking down at midnight the night before, trying not to cry, and insisting to my partner that this was the worst idea ever and I wasn’t going to win anything, anyway.

I was wrong.

But the truth is, I don’t even like dessert. I did this for the challenge .. and maybe because I got to wear a cute apron in public. Much like this blog’s namesake, I’d rather have a strong, savory cocktail after a meal than a slice of cake (but ultimately, I’ll eat anything). So if I was going to make a dessert, it had to have two things I love: pretzels and peanut butter, and something everyone else loves: chocolate. And it sure as hell couldn’t involve an oven.


So, peanut butter chocolate pretzel balls with a peanut butter drizzle were born. Except, they needed a more concise name. My friends suggested “something with orgasms in it,” which turned into “nocturnal emissions,” which turned into “chocturnal emissions,” because puns are awesome and if you’re going to be competing against 20 other bakers, you need a memorable name that will stick. Even if it’s a play on … well, you know.

The name actually got me in a bit of trouble when I made these for a Sea Shepherd bake sale a week after the competition. A woman told me the description sounded good, but the name was gross and made her not want to buy them. Yes, it’s a little vulgar, but it’s also funny (to me, anyway). I assured her they were delicious (and award-winning!), and she ended up buying several. I learned a valuable lesson about cooking for strangers: what works at a bake-off might not always translate over to a bake sale. So, feel free to go with the long name if you’re going to be making these for, say, a group of mommy bloggers or your child’s 5th birthday party. Or a bake sale.


From L to R: Chef Adam Sobel of Cinnamon Snail fame (judge), me grinning like a fool, Sarah Gross of Rescue Chocolate (judge), second runner-up (I didn’t get her name! My apologies.), first runner-up Amanda Bruchok, and comedian Myq Kaplan (judge)

Overall, the competition was a ton of work, and the amount of effort that went into all of the desserts made was incredible. My favorite was the trio of fruit sorbets made by a couple whose names I don’t remember. If it was you, let me know! I ate like five cups of that stuff.

Here’s my (award-winning!!!) recipe:

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