Vegan Grilled Cheese…Waffle

Photograph by Rachel Swetnam | Los Angeles Food Photographer 2012

I recently took a lovely trip to Denver. It was at a restaurant called City, O City, where I experienced the Grilled Cheese Waffle for the first time. I thought, “what an innovative idea”! I love both of those things! Furthermore, since I’m vegan, I never get to have grilled cheeses!! Since this place had a vegan friendly version, I was obviously super excited! Well, when the waffle came out, I was a bit underwhelmed. There was very little “cheese” in the middle (which in my opinion is the whole point to the grilled “cheese”). Besides that small bump in my lunchtime excitement, the waffle itself was very good and had a surprising spicy kick! The overall consensus: The grilled cheese waffle was and is a great idea!

So of course, when I got back to L.A., I went into my kitchen and cooked up a savory, herby waffle, loaded with vegan cheese. It will be super hearty and soul warming for the cold wintry months that lay ahead.

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Pumpkin Whoopie Pies with Caramel Cream Cheese Icing

Happy Halloween, Folks! Today is a great day! Not because people dress up in costume, beg for candy on strangers doorsteps and sometimes drink too much. It’s a great day because it’s a day to eat Pumpkin!!!

Rachel Swetnam Los Angeles Food Photographer
Rachel Swetnam Los Angeles Food Photographer

That’s right friends, it’s pumpkin season and that means I just finished celebrating my favorite (made-up)  holiday, “Pumpkin Fest”! Last Saturday my friends and I celebrated the 5th Annual Pumpkin Fest. Pumpkin fest is celebrated on one particular day, but wouldn’t you agree this whole season can be considered Pumpkin Fest? Me too! So, to kick-start the celebration of my favorite member of the Cucurbitaceae  family, I am sharing this delicious Whoopie Pie recipe. (Adapted from a non-vegan recipe on

Whoopie Pies seem soooo trendy lately, don’t they? We’ll I obviously had to jump on the ‘ole bandwagon and conform to this trend. But of course, I couldn’t just be boring with it, so I jazzed it up with a little caramel mixed in the cream filling!

Here is the recipe, Enjoy your first Pumpkin recipe of the season!

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies with Caramel Cream Cheese Icing
Recipe type: Dessert
Author: Rachel
Prep time: 20 mins
Cook time: 12 mins
Total time: 32 mins
Vegan Pumpkin Whoopie Pies with Caramel Cream Cheese Filling. Perfect for a fall party!
  • Cookies:
  • 1 1/2 Cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 Cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 Cup vegetable oil
  • 1 (15-ounce) can pure pumpkin (not pie filling)
  • 1 1/2 Teaspoon mixed with 2 Tablespoon Water
  • 1 Teaspoon vanilla Extract
  • Caramel Sauce:
  • 1/4 Cup vegan margarine
  • 1 Cups brown sugar
  • 1/2 Cup non-dairy milk
  • Filling:
  • 8 Ounces of Tofutti Cream Cheese, softened (remove from refrigerator for at least an hour prior to using)
  • 6 Tablespoons Vegan Margarine, softened
  • 1 1/2 Cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 Teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. Preheat Oven to 350°F.
  2. In a medium sized mixing bowl combine, flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger,nutmeg and cloves.
  3. Set aside.
  4. In a large mixing bowl or in the bowl of an stand up mixer, combine brown sugar, vegetable oil, pumpkin puree, corn starch “egg” and vanilla extract.
  5. Mix ingredients until they are creamy and well blended. Add the dry ingredients slowly 1/3 at a time.
  6. The batter will be a bit thick.
  7. Scoop with a ice cream scoop (2 Tablespoons of batter) onto an non-greased cookie sheet.
  8. Once out of the oven the cookies will feel springy (cake like) to the touch.
  9. If 12 mins is not long enough in the oven you can go up to 18 mins.
  10. Caramel Sauce:
  11. In a saucepan over medium heat melt vegan margarine.
  12. Add brown sugar, 1/4 non-dairy milk. Bring to a boil while whisking for about 5 minutes.
  13. In a smaller bowl mix 1/4 non-dairy milk with 1 Tablespoon Corn Starch.
  14. Remove the saucepan from the head and slowly whisk in the mixture from the small bowl. As the caramel cools it will thicken up. Once cool add about 1/2 Cup of caramel sauce to cream cheese filling.
  15. Cream Cheese Filling:
  16. In a mixing bowl cream together cream cheese, non-dairy margarine, and vanilla extract. Slowly mix in powdered sugar.
  17. Add caramel sauce to icing once it’s thick.
  18. Assembling:
  19. Scoop a large spoonful (about 2 Tablespoons) of filling and top the flat side of the cookie. Take another cookie, flat side (bottom) down and make a sandwich.

Additional ingredients to make these cookies even more exciting!

add 1/2 Cup chopped pecans to the cream cheese filling
add 1-2 Tablespoons of bourbon to the cream cheese filling


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Amaretto Peach Crumble…..Ice Cream

I’m getting terrible at blogging. But I’m so busy, making ice cream! I know, I’m obsessed… OBSESSED! So here is another killer recipe while we are still holding on to the dregs of summer! Enjoy. Real food recipes to come… just be patient, please!


Amaretto Peach Crumble…..Ice Cream
Recipe type: Dessert
Author: Rachel
Prep time: 30 mins
Cook time: 30 mins
Total time: 1 hour
Serves: 4-6
Amaretto soaked peach crumble ice cream made with coconut milk.
  • 1 15oz Can Full Fat Coconut Milk
  • 3/4 Sugar
  • 2 t. Vanilla
  • 2 Fresh Peaches, pit removed and sliced
  • 3-4 Tablespoons Amaretto
  • 3 Tablespoons of brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3/4 Cup Pecan halves
  • 1/2 Cup Brown Sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/3 Cup flour
  • 3-4 Tablespoons of non-dairy margarine
  1. In a medium bowl combine coconut milk, white sugar, vanilla. With a hand held mixer, mix together until sugar has dissolved. Set aside.
  2. Roughly chop the peach slices and put in a shallow bowl or dish. Add Amaretto, 3 Tablespoons of brown sugar, salt, 2 teaspoons cinnamon and 1 teaspoon vanilla.
  3. Mix together so the peaches are evenly coated in the mixture. Cover with a lid or plastic wrap.
  4. Place in refrigerator for at least 1 hour.
  5. Once peaches have marinated in the mixture place in a medium sauce pan.
  6. Bring liquid to a simmer. Cook for 10-15 minutes or until most of the liquid has evaporated.
  7. Once peaches are cooked, turn off burner and set aside to cool.
  8. While peaches are cooling, pour coconut ice cream mixture into the ice cream maker per manufacturing instructions.
  9. With about 5 minutes left, add peach mixture into the ice cream. Let it churn until everything is well mixed.
  10. For Crumble topping:
  11. Place pecans, brown sugar, flour, margarine,vanilla in a food processor.
  12. Pulse until pecans are roughly chopped and everything is well blended.
  13. Sprinkle topping individually on each serving of ice cream or transfer ice cream into a dish and top with pecan crumble.


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Banana, Chocolate Chunk Vegan Ice Cream

Photograph by Rachel Swetnam Los Angeles Food Photographer

If you exist in the world right now you will know, it’s HOT outside. Yes, even in beautiful (70 degrees everyday) Southern California, it’s hot(ter) than usual. I’m not the only one saying this, other SoCal people are complaining of the heat too! I promise.  Maybe we’ve all become “wusses” since moving from our original homes somewhere in the humid planes of the midwest. But despite our possible weakness for heat, we need SOMETHING to cool us down.

What is your “go to” summer dessert that cools you down on hot summer days? Mine is, and forever will be, ice cream. It’s my weakness. It’s my “Perfect Summer Dessert.” But since becoming a vegan I can’t go just anywhere for a good ice cream dessert, I have to find a place with “dairy-free” ice cream.  I will drive 20 minutes to get some of my favorite ice cream from a local L.A. ice cream shop.  But I started to think, with the cost of gas, the roasty (my car currently has no a/c) drive over there and the cost of the actual ice cream, I’m not doing myself any favors financially. So, I’ve decided to make my own ice cream and minimize my unnecessary drives out of the way just for a cool summer treat.

Because a lot of non-dairy ice creams are made with soy and I’m trying to minimize my soy intake, I decided to venture out and make coconut milk ice cream. I find coconut milk has a more rich and creamy consistency than soy.. and it may be better for me!

Enough of my chatter, here are the recipes! 

Banana, Chocolate Chunk Vegan Ice Cream
Recipe type: Dessert
Author: Rachel
Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 25 mins
Total time: 35 mins
Serves: 4-6
Creamy and delicious vegan ice cream made from organic coconut milk.
  • 1 can full fat coconut milk
  • 3/4 C. Sugar
  • 2 t. Vanilla Extract
  • 2.5 oz of your favorite non-dairy chocolate bar. I used a Nibby bar from Chocovivo
  • 1 ripe banana, cut into chunks
  1. Prepare your ice cream maker based on the manufacturer’s instruction.
  2. Pour coconut milk, sugar, vanilla in a blender. Blend until sugar is dissolved.
  3. Pour into ice cream maker and churn based on instructions. Churn until desired firmness.
  4. Quarter banana lengthwise then chop width of banana into 1/2 inch slices. (This should make little banana cubes).
  5. Remove chocolate from packaging and smash into small pieces with rolling pin.
  6. minutes before ice cream is done, add banana chunks and chocolate.
  7. When ice cream is done churning, serve with a cherry on top!

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Vegan Fried Green Tomatoes

Photo by Rachel Swetnam Los Angeles Food Photographer

Holy crap, I’ve always loved the movie Fried Green Tomatoes with Kathy Bates and Jessica Tandy, but I never thought fried green tomatoes was a real dish. I know, the southern part of my family just died a little bit, but I really didn’t think it was a real thing. I thought it was something made up like Green Eggs and Ham (which very well might be a real dish, I just don’t know anymore!) Well today my world was changed, for the better! I discovered that fried green tomatoes were in fact real and were also extremely delicious. Seriously, these unripe, hard as a rock, tart, green tomatoes make one delightful southern treat. The traditional recipe calls for bread crumbs, however, I used ground flax seed. I didn’t want to lose the crunch but still wanted to retain some sort of healthiness to the dish. I also baked the tomatoes, so as the flax seeds crisp up in the oven, the tomatoes cook down, releasing their moisture and giving the tomatoes a nice soft, almost gooey, texture.  So, although I broke southern tradition with my alterations, you won’t be disappointed  with the outcome. Enjoy your summer days with these quasi heathy “fried” green tomatoes!

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