Sunday, November 30, 2008

Now that's kinky

Did that get your attention? Well, don't get your panties in a bunch about the topic at hand, for it may not be as inappropriate as the title suggests.

According to Merriam-Webster, kinky is defined as either "closely twisted or curled," or "relating to, having, or appealing to unconventional tastes." So, get your mind out of the gutter and continue reading this post to find out how innocent it can be.

What I'm actually referring to is one of the natural beauty recipes from the book I am reviewing. This simple combination of purified water and plain organic oatmeal is a traditional kitchen spa treatment used by many. What makes this version unconventional is the addition of pureed onion, hence the "Kinky Oatmeal Mask" name.

"Onion acts as an anti-inflammatory agent and inhibits the overproduction of collagen in acne scars, while oatmeal penetrates deeply into pores, cleansing the excessive cell buildup and clogged pores," Julie Gabriel, author of "The Green Beauty Guide," explains.

This time of year, schedules are hectic, leading to stress and breakouts. Face it; not all of us are immune to the occasional blemish no matter how clean our diet or skin care regime. Even Ms. Gabriel found an opportunity to blog about homemade acne solutions, since her recent book promotion efforts have left their marks on her skin (hard to believe after seeing her flawless skin in her photo).

Therefore, this was the perfect time for me to test drive this kinky facial. It really does work wonders on stressed-out skin, but beware of its teary eye effects. If cutting onions makes you cry, be careful not to get this too close to your eyes. I kept mine closed during the application process and covered my peepers with cucumbers while it set. Looks like I'm not the only one sporting these specs (just pan down to the Crazy Cucumber Gang pic).

For more homemade beauty recipes, check out "The Green Beauty Guide" website for a sampling of what's inside its pages, and stop by my blog on Wednesday for my full review.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Jacob's Turkfruity

It's like Tofurky, but with fruit. You know; a veganized, rawified turkey stand-in. My sister helped the boys (hers and mine) make these rawdorable creatures as centerpieces for the meal yesterday. Now that's my kind of turkey :-)

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Brunch, dinner and dessert =

A very full raw foodie.

Even living the raw lifestyle can lead to overindulgence today, and I definitely don't feel deprived with this Thanksgiving feast.

Last year, I stuck to the traditional fare: mock mashed potatoes with mushroom gravy, Maraw's fabulous Southern Corn Nut Dressing (you really must try this recipe), cranberries, and marinated/"cooked" (in the dehydrator, of course) green beans and carrots. For dessert, I made a raw version of my mom's apple crisp.

I remember rushing around, trying to get everything ready to visit both sides of the family for dinner. That's right; we were scheduled for back-to-back meals, consisting of the same menu items x 2. No wonder I felt so stuffed.

This year, I skipped the stuffing altogether (although I highly recommend trying that dressing recipe when you get a chance), in favor of a simple veggie pot pie I rawified from an old copy of Vegetarian Times.

Inspire by the one in the magazine, I made the base out of butternut squash, carrots, celery, onion, garlic, miso, olive oil, white wine, curry powder, poultry seasoning, fresh thyme, sea salt, cayenne and fresh ground pepper. I pureed all these ingredients in my blender. For texture, I added chunks of zucchini, mushrooms and green beans, along with some more carrot, celery and onion. Then, I topped off the pot pie with a crust made out of ground mixed nuts.

Alongside the savory pie, I'm serving a kale salad with raw "caramelized" red onions and almonds. It's dressed in EVOO and balsamic vinegar, like the kale featured in the same issue. I also added some agave and dry mustard for a sweet and spicy twist.

For dessert, I made a raw mini version of the chocolate pie my mom makes every year. She's quite the pie maker, usually baking (in an oven; she's not raw) a variety of flavors to suit everyone's tastes (there has to be pumpkin, my one sister loves chocolate, the other one likes apple, my dad requests lemon meringue, etc.).

Today, we won't be around for the pie, since we already dropped in for brunch instead. Pumpkin muffins and fresh fruit were part of the spread. Therefore, I decided to bring along some of my raw pumpkin cupcakes/muffins. Yum.

I hope your Thanksgiving is just as tasty. I know I'm thankful for all that's on my plate :-)

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Matthew's pumpkin trifle

Who's Matthew? Well, my husband's name is Matthew, which is why this recipe caught my eye. However, he's not the Matthew that inspired the name of this trifle.

I came across this layered dessert, while flipping through the pages of a Better Homes and Gardens magazine at work. It was simple to make, perfect for the Thanksgiving holiday and it had my hubby's name in the title. I just had to rawify it.

The original recipe calls for pumpkin bread, whipped topping, pudding, pumpkin butter and a sprinkling of walnuts. All of these ingredients are piled up in a tiny cup for portion control.

It's no surprise that I whipped up one of my raw pumpkin spice cupcakes in place of the pumpkin bread. I sliced off the cap, filled it with raw cream and pumpkin butter (pumpkin puree combined with date paste, vanilla and pumpkin pie spice), and put more of cream and pumpkin butter on top. Then, I garnished it with some chopped walnuts (I used these maple ones).

So, how did it taste? Was it good? You bet your home and garden it was :-)

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Feeling hot, hot, hot

Hot as in spicy, that is. After having so much fun with my mock meatloaf and faux mash potato cupcake, I decided to add a little spice to the recipe to create this festive version.

My fiesta cupcake uses the same "meaty" base with the addition of some taco seasonings, like cumin, coriander and chili powder (as you can see in this naked cupcake pic to your right. Quick, cover the eyes of your little ones).

Then, I swapped out the tater top icing and green pea polka dots for a creamy guacamole, shredded carrot flakes and jalapeno pepper sprinkles. I kept the cherry tomato on top, because it was just too cute to pass up.

To really take this savory cupcake to the next level, you could also fill the inside with some cashew-based sour cream or mock refried beans (like how the cream is hidden inside my rawtess cupcakes). Then, add some salsa, chopped olives and/or your other favorite taco toppings to make this decked out meal your own. It's like a party on a plate, or in this case, in a cup :-)

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Who says savory can't be fun?

Oops; I guess I did. If you recall my vampire breath post, you may remember me mentioning the fact that I don't post as many savory recipes, because "they're just not as fun to write about."

But tonight I'm posting an exception. Not yet ready to give up the cupcake theme, I decided to whip up a mini mock meatloaf and top it with some faux mashed potato icing (I wonder where I got that idea). It's accented with some green peas and a cherry (or in this case cherry tomato) on top. Now that's home uncook'n at its cutest.

The mock meatloaf is my own personal recipe, which I hid beneath a layer of Matt Amsden's Rawvolutionary Mashed "Potatoes." I won't be providing Mr. Amsden's recipe; for that, you'll have to pick up his book.

But, I can share the secret to making my meatless loaf. Embellish it however you like or construct your own savory masterpiece using another raw meatloaf recipe as the foundation. Have fun :-)

Two Mini Mock Meatloaves
1/2 cup walnuts
3 or 4 baby bella mushroom caps, diced
drizzle of Bragg's Liquid Aminos
1/2 Tbsp. miso
1 clove of garlic
1/2 cup finely ground almonds or almond pulp
1/4 cup grated zucchini
2 Tbsp. grated carrot
2 Tbsp. finely diced celery
1/4 cup finely diced onion
fresh ground pepper
cayenne pepper
poultry seasoning
*Your favorite raw ketchup or barbecue sauce (optional)

In a food processor, combine walnuts and diced mushrooms. Add a drizzle of Bragg's, along with the miso, garlic and all of the seasonings (pepper, cayenne, poultry seasoning and parsley), to taste. Process into a blended, yet chunky consistency.

Remove the "meat" from the food processor and put it in a bowl. Add the almond flour, zucchini, carrot, celery, onion and more of the parsley. Mix to combine and divide between two ramekins.

Top both mini loaves with your favorite raw ketchup or barbecue sauce recipe (I like the one from Juliano's book). "Bake" them in your dehydrator for a couple hours until warm and they appear "cooked" on top.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Greening my reading

... and my beauty routine, too. That's what I've been busy with lately.

Swimming in a sea of raw cupcakes, you may not have noticed my little needle-in-a-haystack comment about participating in a virtual book tour. Therefore, I thought I'd share this opportunity with you now.

My blog has been selected as one of the stops on "The Green Beauty Guide" tour. As a result, I've been soaking in the information from Julie Gabriel's book on the subject and applying it from head to toe.

Now, I've always been a fan of natural beauty, so I absorbed this guide like a sponge, even testing out some of the recipes and recommended products. Every girl deserves some pampering.

If you want to find out more about my thoughts on the book, drop by my blog for the full review on Wednesday, Dec. 3rd. Feel free to purchase your own copy and read it before the big day. You're welcome to post your own comments about the book and start a discussion. I'm anxious to hear what you think, too.

In the meantime, for all you cupcake fans, I didn't want to disappoint. After hearing that Kristen (hey girlie girl, I think this book is right up your alley) started greening her home literally with a Christmas tree, I decided to dig up this photo of some of my rawified cupcakes displayed like a tree. Just ignore the birthday-themed background, as I made this for my blog's 1-year anniversary.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

A hazy shade of yet another cupcake

And what a hazy photo it is. This was obviously a last minute shoot of my final cupcake in the collection (at least for a little while; I figured you needed a break).

If you look rather closely, you may be able to make out the creamy chocolate filling (it's the same as the topping from the rawchachinos in my last post, except with more cocoa added) in the center of these hazelnut cupcakes. Just like the one in "Vegan Cupcakes Take over the World," this rawified version is iced with a chocolate glaze and garnished with some chopped hazelnuts.

This was a lovely way to calm my cupcake cravings long enough to get to work on my next assignment. I have a book to finish reading, so I can be ready to review it soon. I'll give you more details in my next post.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Wake me up before you cocoa

Like mochachino, chocochino. You know; something to wake you up before you go go (that's a Wham reference for those of you who are too young to remember).

Anyway, nearing the end of my cupcake kick, I decided to make one with a kick of its own in a slightly nontraditional fashion. This raw cake is actually served in a cup.

Now, I gave up coffee years ago, but still make room for a substitute every once in a blue moon (what color is the moon now? That reminds me of the line from the "Great Muppet Caper," when Kermit says they're gonna catch the thieves red-handed and one of the muppets responds with, "what color are their hands now?") Sometimes I perk myself up with raw cocoa, maca or yerba mate, but other times I just opt for the similar aroma and taste of Teeccino.

This time, I awakened all of my senses with a combination of raw cocoa powder, Java Teeccino, cinnamon and cayenne pepper. I added these ingredients into the following raw cake recipe and topped it off with some leftover raw whipped icing/cream flavored with a tad more cocoa. A sprinkling of cinnamon, and you guessed it, more cocoa powder make this treat reminiscent of those found at your local coffee shop, minus the coffee. Here's how to make your own:

Rawchachino Cupcakes for Two
1/2 cup almonds, ground into flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 Tbsp. Java Teeccino grounds
1 Tbsp. coconut milk or other nut milk
generous drizzles of agave nectar, to taste
sprinkling of cinnamon
dash of cayenne pepper
pinch of sea salt
*raw whipped icing mixed with a hint of cocoa powder
*more cocoa powder and cinnamon for garnish

In a small bowl, whisk together the almond flour, cocoa powder, Teeccino, cinnamon, cayenne pepper and sea salt. Add the coconut milk and agave, and mix to combine. Adjust the amounts for both flavor and texture. The mixture should be damp, yet still crumbly like a cake.

Divide the mixture between two small espresso mugs and gently pat down the surface. Top off both mugs with some raw whipped icing tinted/flavored with a touch of cocoa powder. Garnish both mugs with a sprinkling of cinnamon and more cocoa powder.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Another sundae on a Thursday

You would think I'd have the timing right by now, but somehow this sundae still ended up on the wrong day. Don't you think Sunday would've been more appropriate?

Oh well, I just thought you waited long enough, so here is the final cupcake from last week's unbaking extravaganza (although I did make two more with the leftover ingredients; they'll be making an appearance soon). It's the other banana cupcake I mentioned in yesterday's post.

Also from "Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World," this over-the-top concoction is a rawified version of the Banana Split Cupcake from the book. Using the same raw banana cupcake base as "The Elvis," this non-frozen treat has it all, from its creamy vanilla swirl to the cherry on top.

And what sundae wouldn't be complete without not-hot fudge, chopped walnuts and colorful sprinkles?

If you missed it the first time, here is a quick review of how I make tinted coconut flakes. All you have to do is make a dye out of agave and whatever you choose to make the color (turmeric for yellow, berries or beets to make a rosy hue, spirulina or liquid chlorophyll to make green, etc.), mix it with coconut flakes and dry thin layers of the mixture in your dehydrator. Then, break it or grind it up and sprinkle it on your favorite sweet creations.

Now, since I've had so many requests for more recipes, here is how you make the banana cupcake base.

Banana Cupcakes in the Raw x 2
This recipe was made in a small batch, as I was creating multiple variations of cupcakes at once. Feel free to expand the recipe to suit your needs.

1/2 cup almonds, ground into flour
1/2 cup cashews, ground into flour
1/4 cup mashed banana
1-2 Tbsp. date paste
drizzle of agave
touch of vanilla
sprinkling of cinnamon
dash of sea salt

In a small bowl, combine the nut flours, cinnamon and sea salt. Stir with a whisk or use an electric mixer.

Next, add the mashed banana, about 1 Tbsp. of the date paste and a touch of vanilla. Whisk/mix, paying close attention to the consistency of the batter. Add agave to taste, and more of the date paste, as needed. Whisk/mix to combine. The batter should be moist, but not so damp that it requires "baking" in a dehydrator (although you could if you desire).

Divide the batter in half to make two cupcakes. Form them into cupcake shapes, and decorate to your hearts content.

*Chocolate Chip Banana Variation: add cacao nibs or chunks of a raw chocolate bar to the batter before forming into cupcake shapes.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

This cupcake is bananas

Bananas. B-A-N-A-N-A-S (that's spelling it out for you).

It's just like that Gwen Stefani song my hubby makes fun of every time I play it. On a positive note, my son probably knows how to spell that word.

Speaking of my son, I had a conference with his teacher yesterday. I am happy to report that he is in the top of his class. I am so proud of him.

Anyway, back to the banana, cupcake that is. My friend Charissa of Raw Royalty was hoping for a chocolate chip banana muffin or cupcake, so lucky for her, I delivered (although not to her house).

This is actually the first of two banana cupcakes I have rawified for you from the "Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World" book. Today's model is decked out in a simple vanilla icing swirl, a sprinkling of walnuts (although they used peanuts and a peanut butter frosting), a couple banana slices and a raw chocolate chunk. It's very reminiscent of the picture from the book.

Ms. Moskowitz and Ms. Romero (the authors of the book) named their baked original "The Elvis," after "The King's" fondness for grilled peanut butter and banana sandwiches. Thanks girls for the inspiration. As Elvis would say, "thank you, thank you very much."

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Green Fest

That's short for Green Festival, of course. I actually had an abbreviated visit to the event this year. But, I'm not complaining; I've gone the past couple years and was lucky enough to have Rawbin's sister and friends take me along for the ride. Thanks girls :-)

Rawbin was working the NaturalZing booth, which has been doing an excellent job of representing raw food at the festival. I remember checking out their wares the first time I attended. I was so excited to find something raw that year that I got a little out of hand, telling anyone who was interested about the products. I think they thought I worked there.

If I was able to stay at the event for the whole weekend, I would've loved to help out with the booth for real. At least I was able to stop by for a visit.

I got to see Jeff, who started the company 5 years ago; however, I missed his wife, Helen. I'm assuming she was there on Saturday, because I heard their newest addition made an appearance that day (for those who don't know, Jeff and Helen welcomed there second child into the world recently. Congrats you two).

Maria and Nic were also working the booth. I managed to sneak a pic of Maria, but somehow Nic was missing in action at the time. You may remember her from one of my past posts, or perhaps you've even spoken to her when phoning in your NaturalZing order.

She took mine in advance, so I could pick it up at the event. I got lucuma slices (this is what you get before its turned into powder), raw macadamia nuts, raw almonds (these are not pasteurized), coconut butter, MSM lotion (this feels great on my injured foot, which is much better now), agave nectar, a Golden Bean dark chocolate bar (Jeff was nice enough to toss one in for me to try) and kelp noodles (I couldn't find the link on their site right now).

Speaking of kelp noodles, they are one of NaturalZing's newest items, so now you know where you can get them. Some of my readers had been asking about these noodles after I mentioned them on a post about Java Green, which also set up shop at the Green Festival this weekend.

My buddy D.J., who owns the place, made a last minute decision (at least that's what Rawbin told me) to sell a selection from his menu, which included some raw dishes, at the event. From what I understand, I missed the raw pizza on Saturday, but I was happy to still find my favorite kelp noodle dish while I was there on Sunday. Now I can recreate the experience at home with the noodles I just purchased.

I washed it down with a cold-brewed green tea that D.J. gave to me on the house. Thanks D.J. :-)

Moving right along, I didn't have much time to peruse the other booths, but I'll highlight some of my faves. Sticking with the raw food theme, Rawbin and I stopped by, where we met Josh. He's also involved with Elements for Life, a company my friend Lenette of Go Raw Chicago (although you don't have to be from Chicago to read her blog) introduced me to recently. They have some great products you should check out.

There weren't as many raw foods to sample as I found last year. Larabar (although some of you aren't psyched about this brand since the company was bought out) was distributing mini chocolate cherry and peanut butter cookie bars (I know; the second one was not entirely raw, but I gave in to its peanut butter cookie aroma and flavor. Shame on me).

Cliff Bar was also present, but without their Nectar line. Like Larabar, this line is composed of dried fruits and nuts. Rawbin and I ate more than our share last year, so no wonder they didn't have any to give us this time.

Right around the corner from Cliff Bar was Manitoba Harvest with their hemp products. They were offering up sample cups of hemp seeds, some lettuce coated in hemp oil dressing and hemp seed butter tastings. Their products are delicious and even better when paired up with the Amazing Grasses wheat grass beverages being served up right next to them.

While on the topic of raw food at the festival, I can't forget to mention VegNews, who was set up nearby (Katie and Christine were running the booth at the time). I must applaud the magazine's efforts to bring more attention to the raw food movement on its pages. It helped convince me to renew my subscription for another year. Keep up the good work :-)

The vegan publication is also great for keeping readers up to date on animal rights issues and other related news in a hip format that's always on trend. For instance, the latest issue announces the Veggie Award winners, addresses the great hemp debate and features a holiday shopping guide full of vegan and eco-friendly products.

The festival also had some products, perfect for holiday shopping. I picked up this little dress from Happy Green Bee for my friend, who is expecting a baby girl soon (I got her the matching hat, too). I also found these cute finger puppets for my son (he's been asking about making finger puppets lately) and some freebies to round out his fun.

Now, I always treat myself to something while I'm there, so this year, I purchased some more thigh high socks from In2Green. I love how this company recycles old fibers into new fashions. Last year, I bought my first pair of their socks, as well as a cute shirt for my son. It said, "Be Green for Me," with a frog on it.

While wandering the isles, I came up with some other gift giving ideas, as well as a few for my own Christmas list. So, for you family members who are reading this, hint, hint ...

I fell in love with these Ella Vickers bags last year. One of these days I'll get my hands on one without a leather handle. I also took a liking to this Green Label Organic shirt. It says, "Organic Rocks," with a guitar on it. I don't actually play, although the boys (my husband and son) and I had fun rocking out with Guitar Hero last year at Christmas time.

It wasn't long before it was time to leave the Green Festival, so I made sure to make one last stop at the NaturalZing booth to say my goodbyes. I was hoping Wendi Dee would be back by then, but unfortunately, we missed each other. Oh well, I guess we'll meet eventually.

Blaqberry also texted Rawbin to let her know she was on her way. Sorry I wasn't there to hang out.

Luckily, my friend Joe Kennedy was there to give me a hug goodbye (I look spaced out in this pic). Thanks :-)

Before I leave you for today, I just wanted to share one last photo of a poster I thought caught my eye on the way out. The lighting was bad and there were some yo-yoers doing tricks in front of my view. Therefore, I'll read it for you. It says, "Be an Eco-Hero. Join the Agents of Change."

See, being green can be fun :-)

*For those of you looking for cupcakes, don't worry; the others will be posted this week.

Monday, November 10, 2008

I could ward off a vampire with this breath

Did that title get your attention? Hopefully, it's not true, although I don't see anyone with fangs wanting to lip-lock with me anytime soon. Being that my hubby is not a creature of the night (he has to get up very early for work in the morning), I'm sure he's okay with that.

I know that I've promised you more cupcakes (I still have two more to share), but I thought I'd give your sweet tooth a rest for the time being to remind you there is more to raw food than desserts. Contrary to popular belief, I also eat savory dishes; they're just not as fun to write about.

For instance, I've had the traditional raw spaghetti with faux meat sauce lately, which would explain the garlic breath. Good thing I followed it up with a raw chocolate mint cupcake I posted about yesterday (there I go with the sweet stuff again).

So, that would explain the vampire reference, which is a popular topic at the moment. There is the "Twilight" series of books, which is about ready to hit the big screen, and my newest guilty pleasure is currently on HBO.

I hate to admit it (being a wholesome mom and all), but my favorite show at the moment is "True Blood." The very graphic (don't worry; I wait until Jacob is in bed to watch it) series addresses how a small town is handling vampires becoming a part of mainstream society.

The reason I bring this up is because one of the characters is a raw vegan (except for the fact that she chooses to eat this way to heighten her experience on "V," otherwise known as vampire blood). I just wish she was viewed in a more positive light. Why couldn't Sookie (the main character on the show) be raw instead?

Anyway, I was up late watching this last night, and now I have to finish getting ready for work. Stay tuned later in the week for my brief Green Festival coverage and the other two cupcakes. Happy Monday :-)

Sunday, November 9, 2008

No tater tops here

If you've read my last two posts, you're probably familiar with the tater-top reference. Both my rawified cookies 'n cream and cookie dough cupcakes looked as though they were embellished with potato in their pics (obviously, it was due to my lack of photography skills, as I didn't notice this in person).

Ever since I read Heathy's post with her ice cream scooped mock potatoes, I kept seeing this mashed side dish on top of all my treats. That is, until now.

Today's rawified cupcake is another one from "Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World." Inspired by the book's Chocolate Mint Cupcakes, my model is wearing a coat of raw chocolate sauce and a mint green meltaway cap.

What's a mint meltaway?

It's what I call one of those multicolored melt-in-your-mouth mints you probably had after eating at a social event or perhaps found nestled on your pillow at a hotel. I used to love how they dissolved on my tongue as a child, and lucky for me, I found a way to recreate this experience.

Ever wonder what I do with leftover raw icing?

Of course, I sometimes make n'ice cream sammies, but I also like to add some mint to what's left and pipe it into stars or swirls. Then, I pop them into the freezer to form the perfect raw after dinner mint.

One of these swirls was the exact topper I needed for my mint chocolate cupcake, and it was already made for me. Don't you love it when everything just falls into place.

For instance, today I'll be heading out to the Green Festival, where I'll be able to get the scoop on everything green, visit with my friends at the NaturalZing booth and meet Wendi Dee for the first time. I hope she liked her cupcake :-)

Saturday, November 8, 2008

More mashed potadough

Yeah, you read that right. Remember the mashed potato-resembling icing on my rawified cookies 'n cream cupcake yesterday? Well, it looks as though I need a little help in the photo department, because today's decked-out confection also looks as though it is topped with taters.

Oh well, I'm not going to complain. I find it funny, and it made for an interesting post title.

So, why the "dough" in "potadough" (meant to be read like "potato" with the "dough" in place of "to," as in "toe." Say that 10 times fast)?

To answer your question, the "dough" actually refers to the balls of cookie dough I had left over from the last time I made raw cookie dough n'ice cream. I decided to display them atop this chocolate chip-studded cupcake (I used a chopped up raw chocolate bar for the chips), which is drizzled with chocolate sauce, dolloped with raw whipped cream (that's what looks like mashed potatoes) and sprinkled with ground cacao nibs. Yummy!

Its tater-like top may scare some away, but that's okay. More for me :-)

Friday, November 7, 2008

That's the way the cookie crumbles

Next up on my rawified cupcake tour is a mirror image of the ones I baked (literally) for my son's birthday party a couple years ago. When he saw them in the book, he just had to have them topped with his favorite cookie (he takes after his mommy; it was my fave, too), as well as some Ben 10 characters.

Cupcakes are great for birthdays or anytime. They are the perfect serving size, which saves time on cake cutting. They also make it easy to mix up the flavor offerings, stack them into interesting displays and decorate them individually to spell out the birthday boy's name (J-A-C-O-B; I still remember the first time he proudly shouted out those letters to me).

These raw cupcakes look a lot like the Cookies 'N Cream Cupcakes my son picked out from the "Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World" book. They are chocolate with a whipped icing, which is speckled with cookie crumbs and topped with a rawified sandwich cookie.

I opted to apply the icing in the same form as in the book, but after viewing the photos, I thought it looked like mashed potatoes. That reminded me of a post my friend Heathy did on her blog recently. She had mock mashed potatoes styled like scoops of ice cream, while I ended up with icing that could pass for her "potatoes" :-)