Posts tagged ‘coconut’

April 8, 2012

Nearly Vegan Coconut Cupcakes

Can we be serious for a moment? Let’s talk coconut. Coconut, this luscious (super)food that seems to be in a constant identity crisis, something we can all relate to from time to time, yes? Coconut, always waffling between savory and sweet, breakfast and dessert, soups and ice cream, muffins and salads. I crave, on a weekly basis at least, this salad, inspired by Heidi, but am even more likely to sprinkle some of that unsweetened, shredded goodness on my morning bowl of oats. I typically use the unsweetened variety, of course (what else would you expect from me?) and I can’t imagine the sugary stuff would pair very well with briny tamari. Dessert, however, is where that oh, so chewy, sweetened stuff finds its home.

Easter, much like Christmas, is important to me not because I am a particularly religious person but because it means family. Easter means an opportunity for my family to take a step back from our everyday schedules and come together at the dining room table to share a meal, reminisce about holidays past, and make sure everyone’s doing well before heading back out into that crazy-busy real world. This year’s Easter also meant celebrating my brother’s 22nd birthday in person rather than through a post on his Facebook wall or quick call when I think he is between classes. While everyone in my family has always had an affinity for sweets, my baby bro’s relationship with sweets takes the cake. (I would say no pun intended but, please, we all know I totally meant it!) Knowing that he would already have gorged himself on marshmallow Peeps and jelly beans (Lord knows, I’ve been sneaking handfuls of mini Cadbury eggs all week!), I wanted to make a dessert that everyone would love but that wouldn’t leave us with our heads on the table, drooling in a sugar-induced coma.

This recipe for vegan coconut cupcakes was inspired by many others, including Ina Garten and Chef Chloe, but rather than running to the store to find all of the perfect ingredients for a particular recipe, I made due with what I had in my cabinet. While that isn’t always a risk I like to take when baking for an event, the gamble paid off this time! In that same spirit, you should feel free to adjust this recipe to fit not only the ingredients you have on hand, but also your personal preferences. Not a fan of almond? Leave out the extract. Looking for an even stronger coconut flavor? Try coconut milk or coconut extract – in the cupcake or the frosting! I just may have to try that next time…

I topped my cupcakes with a simple, lighter cream cheese frosting and some sweetened shredded coconut. You should use whatever frosting you like best with a coconut cupcake. I will always stand by cream cheese frosting as the king of all frostings but I suppose it’s possible to have a different preference…

A few tips and some wiggle room: I used unsweetened almond milk. Any non-dairy milk or cow’s milk is fine. Additionally, you could use buttermilk instead. The act of adding 1 tablespoon of vinegar to a cup of milk causes the milk to curdle slightly and creates the same consistency as buttermilk. I never have buttermilk on hand but always want the incredibly rich and fluffy texture that it provides to baked goods. This homemade alternative is a great solution! It is great i everything from muffins to pancakes.

I made these cupcakes a night ahead of time and frosted them the morning of our Easter lunch. Cream cheese frosting really should be refrigerated so this just avoided the need to make fridge space for 16 cupcakes. You should do whatever suits your life at the moment. Got it? Let’s get to it!

Vegan Coconut Cupcakes

Inspired by Chef Chloe and Ina Garten

Makes 16 cupcakes


  • 1 3/4 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 1 t. baking soda
  • 1 t. baking powder
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk, plus 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 c. safflower oil
  • 1 T. vanilla extract
  • 1 T. almond extract
  • 14 oz. sweetened shredded coconut


  1. Preheat oven to 350* and line 2 muffin tins with cupcake liners
  2. Combine the almond mil and apple cider vinegar and set aside
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  4. In a medium bowl, whisk the safflower oil, vanilla extract, almond extract, and almond milk/vinegar mixture. Fold into the flour mixture until just moistened. After adding the shredded coconut, mix until thoroughly combined.
  5. Using a 1/4 c. scoop, portion out 16 cupcakes. Bake for 16-18 minutes or until a toothpick comes out of a cupcake clean.
  6. Allow to cool completely before frosting.

Light Cream Cheese Frosting

From Cooking Light

Frosts 16 cupcakes


  • 1 cup reduced-fat cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 t. vanilla extract
  • dash salt


  1. In a stand mixer, or with an electric hand mixer, blend all four ingredients. It’s that easy!

We served our cupcakes with chocolate ice cream from J.P. Lick’s. I was worried that dessert wouldn’t really be dessert without some chocolate and I was right! The ice cream absolutely enhanced the flavor of the cupcake and made it feel like a true birthday party, to boot. These cupcakes are light and fluffy and just bursting with coconut flavor – and of course are totally loaded with chewiness from the shredded coconut in the cake and on the frosting.

A birthday success? I’d say so.

May 5, 2011

Italian Festa Jambalaya

I’m not going to pretend that I  know what goes into authentic jambalaya.

I’m a New England kid through and through. I know about eating ice cream year round and picking Macintosh apples that are crisp and juicy beyond your wildest imagination. Clam chowdah and lobster bisque? I’m all over it. Concord grapes and pumpkin pie are my homegirls. I can even claim to know a thing or two about Italian American cuisine – sfogliatella and zeppole? Yes, please.

Jambalaya? Eh. Not so much.

I thought it had something to do with lots of seafood and tomatoes. Turns out sausage and rice get in on the action, too.

I stumbled across Mama Pea’s vegetarian jambalaya and decided it didn’t look half bad (bonus: I had all of the ingredients). You all know I have an aversion to fake anything so I used real chicken sausage from Trader Joe’s, sweet Italian style, and chicken stock.

I also attempted to make my own Creole seasoning ala Emeril Lagasse but my jambalaya really came out tasting more like an Italian chef had had his spoon in the pot.

What I made was really delicious but I won’t exactly be bragging about my new jambalaya recipe. I’d hate to offend the experts but, really, I just want to have authentic jambalaya before I go around acting like I know it all when really I don’t have a clue.

With my 20-page final paper printed and my biostats exam out of the way, this bowl of spicy, tomato-y goodness felt like a bit of a festa in my bocca.

Italian Festa Jambalaya

Inspired by Mama Pea

serves 2 (heck yes, leftovers!)

Seasoning Mixture:

  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • sprinkle kosher salt


  • 2 organic chicken sausage links (sweet or spicy style) – slice each link lengthwise and then chop each link into half-moon pieces
  • 1/2 yellow onion, large dice
  • 1/2 large or 1 small bell pepper, large dice (I used orange)
  • 3 celery stalks, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 can diced tomatoes, no salt added
  • 1 cup chicken stock, low sodium
  • 2 cups cooked brown rice
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • crushed red pepper (pepperoncino)


  • Heat a teaspoon of oil in a nonstick pan over medium high heat. Add the sausage and cook until beginning to brown.
  • Turn the heat down to medium and add the onion, pepper, and celery and cook for about 10 minutes or until softened.
  • Add the garlic and seasoning mixture. Stir well.
  • Add the diced tomatoes and chicken stock and allow to simmer for 10 minutes.
  • Add the brown rice and tomato paste and cover to simmer for another 10 minutes.
  • Sprinkle with pepperoncino – if you like it hot, add more!
  • Check for seasoning balance and adjust to your liking.

I added a 1/2 cup of green beans to my meal since it was the only color missing…

…as well as a slice of baby spinach and garlic ciabatta from When Pigs Fly. This bread smells heavenly when toasted right from the freezer. HEAVENLY.

This bowl was so satisfying. Really filling without being heavy and quite the perfect stew-like meal for a rainy day in May. I loved that much of the sweetness from the tomatoes had been cooked down and finding the little bits chicken sausage was so exciting.

Yes, exciting. This was festa jambalaya, after all.

For dessert? Coconut milk ice cream!

I was really excited for this intially. I was psyched by the low sugar content and healthy fats in this pint but, as it turns out, ice cream is better with more sugar 😉 I added a sprinkle of chocolate chips on top because I just couldn’t get the chocolate flavor that I wanted from the ice cream.

Also, coconut milk really tastes like coconut. I knew that in theory but still didn’t think it would take over my entire bowl of ice cream.

You’ve been warned!

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