The Cruelty-Free Review

A review of compassionate products, foods, and recipes

Candle Cafe Vegan

First of all I would like to give a huge thanks to everyone who stopped by here to check out my entry for the Virtual Vegan Potluck. I welcome and appreciate your comments. I’m still making my way through all the blogs!

Living in Colorado I am fortunate to be close to many great restaurants that feature vegan food. City O’ City, Watercourse, Hops and Pie, Root Down, Linger. I could go on but I doubt these names mean anything to those living outside of CO. I don’t think any of those restaurants are known on a national level. But I’m willing to bet that every vegan knows the name Candle Café. Internationally known as one of the best vegan restaurants in the world, Candle Café features farm-to-table cuisine that is created in the most eco-friendly ways possible. I am insanely jealous of those who live in New York City and can go visit any one of their 3 locations at their leisure. I hope I get to experience it one day.

Until that day comes I can live a little vicariously through their new line of frozen entrees. Available in Mac and Cheese, Ginger Miso Stir-Fry, Tofu Spinach Ravioli, and Seitan Piccata with Lemon Caper Sauce, these meals give a small taste of the goodness that CC dishes out. I tried the Seitan Piccata as it was the only one available at Whole Foods. It was also the one I was most interested in due to the seitan. As far as I know it is the only frozen meal that features everyone’s favorite wheat meat and I was curious to see how it held up.


Before even heating it up I was a little disappointed by the amount of seitan. The seitan in the sauce contained only about four thumb-sized pieces and a bunch of much smaller peices. More than half of the dish was rice. Normally that wouldn’t bother me but the rice was seriously lacking flavor. There wasn’t enough sauce to go throughout the whole dish so it was on the dry side. However, the flavor of the sauce was great. It was distinctly lemony and though I didn’t actually see whole capers I could taste a slight brininess. The larger pieces of seitan were chewy and added just enough texture to keep the whole thing from feeling all around mushy. With 12 grams of protein it was more than enough to keep me full until dinner.

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I do hope to be able to try the other versions soon and review those; hopefully they will be a little more balanced. Unfortunately these meals aren’t cheap; at nearly 5 bucks a pop they are an occasional buy to keep around for emergency use. Candle Café does support The Humane Society of the United States and Farm Sanctuary, two organizations that work tirelessly to better the lives of animals in our world, so I can justify the cost somewhat. If you are interested in trying their frozen fare you can print a coupon off their website to help save a little on the purchase. And if anyone out there has tried any of the varieties I’d love to hear what you think!




Virtual Vegan Potluck #3-Maple Brussels Sprouts Pizza with Serranos and Lemon


Hello and welcome to this, the third installment to the Virtual Vegan Potluck! I hope you are having a wonderful time making your way through all the amazing recipes. Each time we do this it gets bigger and bigger and I couldn’t be happier. A huge, huge amount of thanks goes out to Annie, Somer, and Jason for their hard work at putting this event together, not to mention Vegan Bloggers Unite! for serving as the host site and the myriad of sponsors who contribute prizes. It may take longer to get through each course but I personally love discovering new bloggers and fun recipes to try.  I certainly hope you enjoy my offering and I would love if you kept coming back!

My entry this year is a pizza inspired by a recipe from Meatless, by Martha Stewart Living. The book is full of wonderful vegetarian recipes, many that are vegan or can easily be veganized. One of those recipes is the Brussels Sprout and Lemon pizza, an easy dish that features crispy sprout leaves and tart slices of lemon on top of fresh mozzarella cheese. It’s cooked in a cast-iron skillet so there’s no stress about having a funny-shaped pizza. I liked the sound of it, minus the mozz, of course. The first time I made it the cheese was easily replaced with Teese and the result was a light, but filling meal. It paired wonderfully with a crisp white wine.

Then Robert and I wondered what could make it better. He was a little adverse to the slices of lemon, though I didn’t mind them. He suggested I toss the sprout leaves in maple syrup (maple roasted Brussels sprouts being one of his most favorite foods) to add a bit of sweetness. I concurred; a touch of sweetness can elevate a dish to a whole new level. Then I thought about adding some heat in the way of a jalapeno. The result was good, if not entirely what I was hoping for. The sprouts were perfectly flavored by the syrup, but the lemon became too assertive and the jalapeno was lost in it all.

As with any good experiment I went back to the drawing board. A spicier pepper was definitely needed and I wanted to tone down the lemon flavor without removing it all together. I used two Serrano chilies in place of the jalapeno and instead of lemon slices baked on the pizza I added a bit of lemon zest and juice right after taking the pizza out of the oven. The third time was the charm and I ended up with a truly unique pizza creation. The spice of the peppers matched the sweetness of the sprouts and the lemon zest and juice added brightness and acidity without being overpowering.  The subtle creaminess of the Teese rounded it all out.  You can certainly stick with jalapenos if you are not a fan of heat or increase the heat with a habanero if you are so inclined. I’m very proud of how this came out as it is the first time I’ve evolved a recipe to make something all my own. I’m usually scared to deviate from a recipe but in this case it really paid off.


Maple Brussels Sprout Pizza with Serrano and Lemon

Adapted from a recipe from Meatless by Martha Stewart Living


6-8 large Brussels sprouts

2 Serrano chilies

Zest of 1 lemon plus 2 teaspoons of lemon juice

5oz Teese  or vegan mozzarella of your choice

1 tablespoon Maple syrup

1 can Pillsbury Whole Grain Artisan pizza dough, or dough of your choice (about 13oz)

Olive oil, for brushing


Remove the dough and let it sit at room temp while you prepare everything else. This will make it easier to stretch and manipulate it in the pan.

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F. Lightly oil the cast iron pan, making sure to brush it up along the sides.

Cut the stems off the sprouts and pull as many leaves off as you can. You should end up with roughly 2 cups of leaves. When done, rinse and dry the leaves thoroughly. It is imperative that the leaves are completely dry, or the syrup won’t stick and they won’t get crispy. A salad spinner works well to remove most of the moisture, but you will still need to dry them with paper towels after spinning to get them totally dry. Place dry leaves in a bowl and toss with the maple syrup. Use your hands to make sure every leaf gets coated! Set aside.

Clean the serranos and cut them in half.  Carefully remove the seeds and membrane, and then slice into thin half-moons. Remember to wash your hands after handling the peppers! Set aside.


If you use the Pillsbury crust I did, this part is a little tricky. The dough rolls out in a rectangle and of course the pan is round so you have to do a little cut and paste. Roll the dough out in the pan then trim the excess that hangs over either side. Use these pieces to fill in the gaps in the pan. This is where having pliable dough comes in handy. Pinch the pieces of dough together then pat it out evenly throughout the pan.


Cut off thin slices of Teese and layer them on the crust, leaving approximately a half inch edge of dough. I using shredded cheese just sprinkle it evenly around, again leaving a half inch edge. Evenly spread the Brussels sprouts on top of the cheese then sprinkle the chilies on top. Place in the oven and cook for approximately 10-12 minutes or until the leaves are crisp and the dough is cooked through.  Remove from the oven and evenly distribute the zest and juice on top.

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My entry will take you to The Road to Serendipity. Seriously, that’s the next blog in the potluck, but I think I might use it to close all my future blog entries; “Now to the Road to Serendipity with you.” It sounds very philosophical 🙂  Now off you go!


Poppy’s Patisserie


The Road to Serendipity


Counting down to an awesome event



The 3rd Virtual Vegan Potluck is quickly approaching! This time around there are over 170 blogs (including your truly 🙂 ) participating. If you’re new to this event, one: what rock have you been hiding under? and two: the VVP is a collection of vegan recipes from bloggers all around the world. On May 11th, all the participating bloggers will post their unique recipe with links to the preceding and next blog in the potluck. The categories include appetizers and desserts, and everthing in between. The idea is that of a real potluck; start with the appetizers and make your way to dessert. But just like a real potluck you can skip around and go back to your favorites again and again. I will be in the main dish category.  Check out the entire list of participants here and make sure you come back on May 11th to see what deliciousness I’ve cooked up!

Oh, and don’t think I haven’t noticed that my posting has been lacking lately. I’ve had an unprecidented bout of laziness come over me that I blame on the schizophrenic Colorado weather. It’s hard to want to do anything when it’s spring and there’s six inches of snow outside my window. Thankfully that seems to be over and my mood and energy will perk right up when I see some consistant sun. I’ll have some great reviews coming up and I’ve got a Sunshine Award nomination from Epicurean Vegan to acknowledge. That I am purposely saving for after the potluck, as I suspect I’ll have a whole bunch of new blogs I want to mention!



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