“Go Dairy Free” Features Brand New Blooming Platter Recipe: Vegan Savory Black Bean and Salsa “Cupcakes” with Whipped Sweet Potato “Frosting”

What does one do when Alisa Fleming, founder of GoDairyFree, asks if you have a recipe for Halloween to share with readers of her website?  You get busy!

I have created quite a few recipes for pumpkin dishes, which are here on my blog and in my new cookbook.  But I really didn’t have anything fun, different and delicious in traditional Halloween colors.

However, since I love a challenge, I created a recipe especially for her readers and it’s exciting to be able to share it with you: Vegan Savory Black Bean and Salsa “Cupcakes” with Whipped Sweet Potato “Frosting”!

My first attempt was a bust.  Those dry and flavorless bad boys–and I do mean bad–ended up out in the woods on our property!  But after some brainstorming, it occurred to me that I could use super flavorful salsa for both flavor and moisture and that did the trick–yum!

Sound odd?  Well, this recipe is a little out of the ordinary, but Alisa and I think the cupcakes are so good it’s “scary” (sorry, I couldn’t resist the corny Halloween reference.)  She writes:

“I’m very excited for the recipe feature we have today from the talented cookbook author, Betsy DiJulio. Betsy’s creativity is second only to her ability to create appealing, healthy, comfort food recipes. She never fails to surprise with unique ideas, but they are always very doable and delicious. Today’s recipe is certainly no exception. It pairs simple everyday dinner ingredients with an unexpected format, cupcakes! Since they are savory, and made without any sugar, Betsy uses salsa to add extra moisture and flavor …”

Just follow this link for the simple recipe.  And Happy Halloween!


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Vegan Chocolate Carrot Cupcakes Bloomed on My Platter

This weekend, my husband hosted an overnight house party for 14 of our closest couple friends including a dear friend from D.C.   The beautiful venue was an oceanfront house he rented in Sandbridge, a coastal community in southern VA Beach.  The two-story house–with a kitchen on each floor!–accommodated us all very comfortably, with rooms to spare.

The party concept was entirely Joe’s idea, though he turned all of the details over to me.  Through the efforts and generosity of many, I have to say that everything was completely perfect, far surpassing my greatest expectations!  Thanks to all!

We based virtually the entire catered menu for Saturday night’s dinner on recipes from my new cookbook, including these exquisite cupcakes artfully crafted by Chef Emily de Long of the Gourmet Bake Shoppe in Virginia Beach.

After an initial meeting, I emailed Chef de Long the Chocolate Carrot Cake recipe from The Blooming Platter Cookbook, and she used her own naturally vegan buttercream and sugar artistry to recreate two different cupcake designs I had researched, lending to them her own special touches.  Then she wrapped them in scalloped cupcake wrappers I had made using a template I found online and scrapbook paper from a local arts and crafts store.

The end result is my idea of a Blooming Platter!

I ordered far more cupcakes than we needed because I wanted a bountiful display.  But I also ordered individual cupcake boxes so that I could send the leftovers home with our guests.  They made beautiful Mother’s Day gifts, as several people were meeting their mothers for brunch today.

Stay-tuned for more food-related posts from this lovely party and Happy Mother’s Day to mothers of all kinds wherever you may be.

For this luscious recipe, I hope you’ll consider purchasing a copy of The Blooming Platter Cookbook for your collection.  It is available at Amazon; Barnes & Noble; and locally at Prince Books, Norfolk’s favorite book store:  109 E. Main Street, Norfolk, 757-622-9223, staff@prince-books.com.

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Happy Vegan Birthday to Me! (The 9th Anniversary of my 40th Birthday)

My dear, dear friend, Beth Camper, a National Board Certified English teacher at our school, feted me for my birthday today in a way to rival my mother! She emailed me to say she needed to “see me” and asked when she could come down. I was in a planning block, so I told her to come ahead. A very few minutes later, she appeared in my door with a bakery box full of perfect vegan German chocolate cupcakes and a copy of Bryant Terry’s celebrated new cookbook, Vegan Soul Kitchen!

I was truly overwhelmed by her generosity and cleverness, especially since professionally baked vegan cupcakes are about as rare as polar bears in our area. When I asked her how she managed to procure them, she explained that she had called Yorgo’s Bageldashery in Norfolk, VA, remembering that they employed a vegan pastry chef. It turns out that the pastry chef no longer works there, but they gave Beth her phone number and she tracked her down to ask if she’d bake a custom order, which she was happy to do. They were delicious–not too sweet or too gloppy with frosting. In fact, they were topped with a perfectly restrained amount of the traditional coconut-pecan frosting, veganized. I say “were” because there are none left.

The cookbook Beth had heard about on “The Splendid Table” which airs on Sundays on our public radio station, WHRV. I had heard the same broadcast and was smitten with the idea of the book. Beth told me that her good friend Mary went with her to purchase it and, as they were looking through it, Mary said, “This all looks like something I’d like to have with a pork chop.” We both had a good laugh about that. I’ve never met Mary, but I know her from the stories Beth tells about her; she is one smart and funny woman. Actually, both of them are.

Since my poor husband had emergency oral surgery last night, I doubt we will be going anywhere tonight. But I still have had a wonderful birthday. Thanks to all for the cards, gifts, Facebook posts, and well-wishes, not to mention vegan cupcakes and cookbook. Not necessary, but very much appreciated.
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Vegan Halloween Cake or Cupcakes (Vegan Chocolate Cake with Vegan Orange Buttercream Frosting)

Yield: 1-9×13″ cake or 24 cupcakes

This was a quickie I whipped up for the October pumpkin-painting meeting of the National Art Honor Society, fondly known as “Nozze,” which I sponsor at my school.

Though you wouldn’t necessarily know it from this photo, I actually have cake decorating experience. 🙂 But last Sunday night, before the meeting on Monday afternoon, I needed something sweet, vegan, black and orange, and ultra quick.

I simply adapted and doubled Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s and Terry Hope Romero’s recipe for Your Basic Chocolate Cupcakes, baked the batter in a sheet pan–even quicker than cupcakes, though cupcakes would be fine–and topped the cake with my go-to creamy vegan frosting dyed orange. A few brown-black sprinkles made for a festive presentation without a bit of fuss.

It must have been a hit, as there was scarcely a crumb left.

Happy Hallows Eve!


2 cups chocolate or chocolate lite soy milk
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
2 cups self-rising flour
2/3 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2/3 cup canola oil
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon almond extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9 x 13″ cake pan. In a small, non-reactive bowl, whisk together chocolate soy milk and vinegar and set aside to curdle. In a large bowl, combine next four ingredients. Whisk or stir in oil, vanilla and almond extract until completely incorporated. Then stir or whisk in chocolate soy milk mixture just until it is also completely incorporated. Transfer to prepared pan. Bake for about 30 minutes, but check at 25. When a wooden pick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean, the cake is done. Cool completely on a wire rack. Frost as desired. For a vegan Halloween cake, frost the cake as described below.


3 tablespoons vegan butter (I like Earth Balance)
3 tablespoons vegetable shortening
Powdered sugar (start with approximately 3 cups)
Unsweetened soy milk (plain, vanilla or vanilla lite would be fine too) or soy creamer (start with approximately 2-3 tablespoons)
1/2-1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-2 drops red food coloring
several drops yellow food coloring
Garnish: brown-black colored sprinkles

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together vegan butter and shortening. Add powdered sugar until a creamy-stiff mixture forms. Add soy milk a tablespoon at a time until a creamy consistency that holds soft peaks is reached (or until you achieve whatever consistency you prefer). Beat in food coloring until completely incorporated. Frost cake and garnish with a dusting of sprinkles.

Source: Slightly adapted from Vegan Cupcakes Take over the World by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero

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