Tag Archives: vegetarian

Gourmet Food for Your Broke Ass!

4 Jan

I am the queen of Champagne Taste on a PBR Budget. I have a knack for choosing the priciest candle on the shelf. The most costly curtain design. That pair of boots that will break the bank–you know, the one surrounded by dozens of cheaper or discounted pairs.

Gabi Moscowitz

If you can relate then you are sure to be stoked about a fabulous blog I recently discovered: BrokeAss Gourmet. Blogger Gabi Moskowitz posts recipes for delicious gourmet food. Here’s the kicker: every recipe can be created for less than $20 (assuming you have basic pantry stock items like olive oil). Some are as low as $4!

I don’t particularly enjoy cooking. In theory, I make food at home in order to save money. Yet often by the time I finish buying all the ingredients I’ve spent more than I would on a meal at my favorite restaurant! BrokeAss Gourmet ensures you know what you’ll be spending before you even step foot in the supermarket. And you won’t have to eat scrambled eggs or plain pasta for dinner five nights a week. Imagine feasting on Eggplant-Chard Won Ton Soup for $8 or Apple-Cabbage Piroshkis for $10! Can’t beat that.

Moskowitz often includes charming stories with her recipes. My favorite? Red Cabbage Striptease Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Icing. I just dare you to not click that link and read the story behind this unexpected recipe. I don’t think you can do it.

BrokeAss Gourmet has been kind enough to pass along two recipes for Cheekie’s readers. Enjoy!

Seared Scallops with Wasabi Aioli


  • 1/2 lb fresh sea scallops $7.50
  • soy sauce Pantry
  • 1/8 cup light mayonnaise Pantry
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced Pantry
  • 1 tsp (more/less to taste) prepared wasabi $2 for 4 oz.
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil Pantry
  • freshly-ground black pepper Pantry
  • 2 handfuls mixed greens $1.50
  • Sriracha or other Asian chili sauce $1.50 for 8 oz.
  • toasted sesame seeds for garnish $3 for an 8-oz. container
  • Total Cost of Ingredients: $15.50


    Toss the scallops with 1/4 cup soy sauce and refrigerate for 5-10 minutes.

    Whisk together the mayonnaise, garlic, wasabi and a dash of soy sauce. Refrigerate until ready to use.

    Heat olive oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Sear scallops for 1-2 minutes on each side (they should develop a nice brown crust).

    Divide greens between two plates and top with the seared scallops.

    Top each scallop with a dollop of the aioli and a dot of chili sauce. Garnish with the toasted sesame seeds.

    Serve immediately. Serves 2.

    Prep Time 0:20

    Cook Time 0:04

    Grilled Peaches Over Mixed Greens with Ricotta, Avocado, and Sweet Onion Dressing


  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil, plus more for brushing grill/grill pan Pantry
  • 1/2 red onion, sliced $0.50
  • 1 handful mint, plus more for garnish $0.50
  • 1 tbsp plus 2 tsp balsamic vinegar Pantry
  • 1 tbsp olive oil Pantry
  • 1 tsp honey, plus more for drizzling Pantry
  • 2 ripe peaches (I like white peaches for this recipe), halved, pit removed $2
  • 8 tbsp ricotta cheese $4 for 15 oz.
  • 8 cups mixed greens $3
  • 1 ripe avocado, sliced $1.50
  • salt and pepper Pantry
  • Total Cost of Ingredients: $11.50


    Heat vegetable oil in a medium frying pan over medium-low heat. Add sliced onions and cook, stirring very occasionally, for 10-12 minutes. The onions should become very soft and fragrant.

    In a food processor or blender, puree caramelized onions, mint, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, honey, and a pinch of salt. Add a few drops of water if necessary to achieve a nearly-smooth dressing. Set aside.

    Heat grill or grill pan over high heat. Brush lightly with oil. Grill peaches flesh-side down for 2-3 minutes, or until grill marks appear and peaches soften slightly. Remove from heat.

    To assemble salads, toss greens together with dressing and divide between 2 or 4 plates. Top with a few avocado slices and 1 or 2 peach halves. Top each peach half with a generous dollop of ricotta, a light drizzle of honey and freshly-cracked pepper. Serve immediately. Serves 2-4.

    Psst: Make this recipe vegan by leaving off the ricotta!

    Prep Time 0:25

    Cook Time 0:15


    Speak Softly and Carry a Big Buddha Bag

    26 Dec

    Looking for a way to spend that holiday gift cash?

    An adorable purse from Big Buddha is a perfect way to treat yourself for making it through the holiday season with your sanity intact.

    After traveling in Thailand between high school and college, Big Buddha founder Jeremy Bassan was inspired to create a line of vegan handbags. He started out selling the purses and bags from his college dorm room, and Bassan’s handbags are now featured in the likes of O Magazine, Style and Lucky.

    Big Buddha was acquired by Steve Madden in February 2010–the companies are teaming up to expand the brand into new stores and create a unique vegan shoe line.

    Here are some of our favorites:

    What’s Handmade, Vegan, and Smells Good Enough to Eat?

    8 Dec

    I’m so overflowing with excitement about today’s post that I’m not even sure how to begin! It might be considered the quintessential Cheekie subject matter: vegan beauty products, handmade by two incredible sisters.

    Blueberry Pie Vegan Soap

    Rachel and Sarah McClure are the brains and beauty behind ajoeynamedroo creations. They make all their beauty products from scratch, and their etsy shop contains detailed information about the ingredients. Everything is vegan, ensuring that no animals were harmed or used in the making of your new lip balm or foot scrub. Best of all, keeping your skin healthy and gorgeous with ajoeynamedroo creations won’t break the bank. Say goodbye to over-priced products from health food stores!

    The only problem with ajoeynamedroo creations products is that I want to eat them. Seriously, I nearly went into child-eats-paste mode the moment I opened each scrub, soap, lip balm, and body butter. The Orange Creamsicle Body Butter drove me to the brink, but at the last second I decided not to taste it for fear that I might die and ajoeynamedroo creations would be blamed for my demise.

    Fight Club Lavender & Vanilla Cream

    With adorable names (Honey I Only Dream of You vegan lip balm…) and decadent scents, Rachel and Sarah’s creations are pretty much irresistable. And they work. I’ve had dry lips for about three weeks now. I’m talking cracking and bleeding–attractive, I know. I started using the Strawberry Champagne lip balm and Peppermint Exfoliating Lip Scrub (yum!) a few days ago and voila, my chapped lips are virtually healed already!

    Cheekie asked Rachel to tell us how she and her sister got started with their fabulous business. We quickly learned that this business grew out of a simple need and a “why not?” attitude.

    Here’s what Rachel told us:

    I’ve always been kind of a beauty geek. I love sampling, sniffing, applying and reapplying; there’s something exciting about trying new things that smell pretty and make your skin soft. Though I’m obsessed with beauty products, I’m also really thrifty. I love looking for good deals, and frankly, if you find a cheap bath and beauty product, the ingredients probably aren’t the kinds of things you want to put on your skin (many contain mineral oil, a by-product of crude oil…yuck!). Making my own products allowed me to use high quality products without spending a fortune.

    I started making my own simple body scrubs by mixing olive oil and sugar, and from there, my fixation on bath and body spiraled out of control. If I could make scrubs, then why not lip balms? If I could make lip balms, why not lotion? I corralled my crafty sister into helping me, and soon I had so much cool stuff I didn’t know what to do with it all. We set up an etsy shop and never looked back.

    After about a year, we decided to go completely vegan. We use candelilla wax instead of beeswax in our lip balms, certified vegan sugar (rather than regular sugar which can be filtered through charcoal of animal origin), and vegetable-derived stearic acid. We love being able to give people (and ourselves) affordable, high-quality vegan products.

    And wait… we’re not finished yet. ajoeynamedroo creations has been kind enough to share a recipe with Cheekie readers!

    Strawberry Champagne Lip Balm

    If you’re in the mood to get crafty in the kitchen, whip up your own easy body scrub using this recipe. The ingredients are available in most health food stores.

    Exfoliating Body Scrub

    3/4 cup vegan sugar
    1/4 cup olive oil (you can also use safflower oil or coconut oil. Experiment to see which you like best!)
    1/4 teaspoon vitamin E
    20-25 drops of essential oil (lavender or lemongrass are great choices)

    Mix olive oil and vitamin E in a large bowl. Add sugar and stir. Add 20 drops of essential oil; if you like a stronger scent, add 25. Mix thoroughly, pour into a jar or container, and screw the lid on tightly. Enjoy!

    Killer Cupcakes (That Just Happen To Be Vegan)

    27 Nov

    How does a vegan cupcake sound to you?

    If you are making a face right now at the mere thought of vegan cupcakes, stop! I promise you these cupcakes are delish. Just look at that photo! Honestly, you wouldn’t even know they’re vegan.

    You might have noticed Cheekie tends to feature vegetarian-friendly foods and products. About two weeks ago I decided to give vegetarianism another go. But as I mentioned in my first post, I’ve considered myself a part-time vegetarian for quite a while. Even though one cannot technically be a part-time vegetarian, I use this term because I love vegetarian restaurants, vegetarian/vegan products, and the health benefits of eliminating (or cutting back) meat from my diet.

    So Cheekie would be committed to sharing awesome veggie-friendly stuff regardless of my vegetarian status. It’s frustrating to hear omnivores declare that vegetarian food is “gross” or tasteless. You don’t have to be vegan to enjoy vegan food.

    Which brings me back to the topic of this post… Vegan Cupcakes!!

    I brought Apple Cider cupcakes with Vegan Fluffy Buttercream Frosting to Thanksgiving dinner. They were gobbled up by a vegan, a vegetarian, and two omnivores. Moist and tasty, the cupcakes were a hit!

    The recipe came from a great little book: Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World: 75 Dairy-Free Recipes for Cupcakes that Rule. Just a few of the amazing cupcake flavors in this cookbook: Chocolate Mint, Banana Split, Lemon Macadamia, Chai Latte, Tiramisu, and Cashew Butter Cardamom. Next time I make them, I’m going to try the Pumpkin Chocolate Chip cupcakes with Cinnamon Icing. YUM.

    Here’s the recipe for the ‘cakes I made on Thanksgiving:

    Apple Cider Cupcakes


    2 cups apple cider

    1 tablespoon agar flakes or 1 teaspoon agar powder (I couldn’t find this, so I left it out)

    2 cinnamon sticks

    1/2 teaspoon whole cloves

    1/2 teaspoon whole allspice

    1/2 cup apple butter

    1/4 cup maple syrup

    3/4 cup granulated sugar

    1/3 cup vegetable oil

    2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar

    1 teaspoon vanilla extract

    1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour

    1/2 teaspoon baking powder

    1 teaspoon baking soda

    1/4 teaspoon salt


    1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a muffin tray with cupcake liners.

    2. Place apple cider, agar agar, cinnamon sticks, cloves and allspice in a small saucepan. If using agar flakes, let mixture soak for 10 minutes; if using powder, proceed to the next step.

    3. Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

    4. In a separate bowl, mix together the apple butter, maple syrup, sugar, vegetable oil, apple cider vinegar and vanilla.

    5. Bring the apple cider mixture to a boil, then lower heat to bring it to a low rolling boil, careful not to let it boil over. Boil fro about 15 minutes, until the cider is reduced to 1 1/4 cups and the agar agar is disolved. (If the cider hasn’t reduced enough, boil longer. If it has reduced too much, add extra apple cider to make up for the difference.) Stir frequently because the agar agar tends to stick to the sides of the pan.

    6. Strain the apple cider and discard the spices. Let cool to lukewarm, then add the apple cider to the apple butter mixture and mix well. Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients in roughly three batches, mixing well after each addition.

    7. Spray the cupcake liners with non-stick cooking spray. (I found this to be completely unnecessary, but I used non-stick liners.) Fill each liner three-quarters full. Bake for 22 to 25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean.

    8. Transfer to a cooling rack and let cool completely before frosting.


    1. Pipe the buttercream onto the cupcakes and sprinkle some cinnamon or cinnamon sugar on top of it. It would be cute to stick a cinnamon stick into the frosting if you are feeling fancy-pants.

    Vegan Fluffy Buttercream Frosting


    1/2 cup nonhydrogenated shortening

    1/2 cup nonhydrogenated margarin (like Earth Balance)

    3 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted if clumpy

    1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

    1/4 cup plain soy milk or soy creamer


    1. Beat the shortening and margarine together until well combined and fluffy. Add the sugar and beat for about 3 more minutes. Add the vanilla and soy milk, beat for another 5 to 7 minutes until fluffy.

    Make Irregular Shoe Choices

    18 Nov

    Photo: George Burns/Harpo Studios


    Whoopi Goldberg appeared on Oprah last week wearing heels. Which, if you know anything about Whoopi, is rare. And they weren’t just heels–they were crazy, pink, ankle-boot heels. They were so flashy that Oprah’s first question for Whoopi was about the shoes.

    She got them, it turns out, from Irregular Choice–and they are only one pair of the many funky shoes this company sells.

    These shoes aren’t for the faint-of-heart. Bold, flamboyant, and sometimes all-out crazy, Irregular Choice’s shoes are absolute conversation starters. They even offer vegetarian show-stoppers.

    A 10 year-old British company, Irregular Choice has opened a flagship store in New York. Plus, you can purchase products on the website–which is, well, irregular. You know you’re in for a unique experience from the first click. (In addition to shoes, Irregular Choice offers accessories and clothing.)

    Some styles that stick out:

    Abigails Party (the style Whoopie wore)

    Choo Choo (vegetarian)

    Hot Mama


    Patty (vegetarian)

    Spat Attack

    Sweety Bird

    All Pain No Gain

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