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Whoopie Squares; Conscious Cuisine; Motorco's NYE menu

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We already know by living here that ingenuity abounds in the form of small food businesses, many times a one-man or one-woman show stuffed with big ideas. A couple of new local food products have hit our scene, carrying with them a mission to be the sole purveyors of their craft foods.

Even the most avid cook needs a break once in a while. Some long days encourage grabbing food on the go. But it's difficult finding a prepared meal ready to nuke in the microwave or simmer on the stove that isn't packed with nearly impossible-to-pronounce filler ingredients.

Enter Conscious Cuisine (comfortcuisine.us), a line of vegan meals by locally renowned chef Maggie Radzwiller. One of the original owners of Pop's in Durham, Radzwiller's "Maggie burger" was the talk of the town a few years back. She was also rather famous for an entire rack of lamb. Now she's onto something more health-conscious, and void of meat, as part of her catering company, Comfort Cuisine.

"When I evolved away from restaurants, I began the process of asking my [catering] clients about food allergies and restrictions," she wrote us in an email. "After all, why would they want to entertain guests with foods that they can't eat? Hardly hospitable!"

She says that with an increase in veganism and health issues like gluten intolerance and high blood pressure, it was important for her to develop Conscious Cuisine. The line features completely vegan, gluten-, sodium- and oil-free meals ready to heat and eat. They are also environmentally conscious and packaged in BPA-free plastic containers.

She hasn't skimped on gourmet, either. The line includes heirloom bean and vegetable chili, red lentils with curry, coconut and lime and a "very good for you korma." She debuted her products at the Downtown Market in Durham earlier this month and hopes to be in national retail stores by next year. Find out more online.

Another small business offering miniature delicacies is Aubrey Jordan's Whoopie Squares (whoopiesquares.com). The bite-sized, square-shaped whoopie pies are baked at The Cookery in Durham using organic ingredients from local farms. According to the website, Jordan opted to angle the edges of the New England-style treat for better portability. Classic chocolate with marshmallow filling is always available, but look forward to cookies-and-cream filling in January and a red velvet flavor in February. Find them at The Depot in Hillsborough or The Red Bicycle coffee shop in Chapel Hill, or order your own online.

In other dessert news, word is out that The Final Countdown New Year's Eve Party at Motorco will feature a local dessert bar complementing the Mayan-themed event. If the world will truly end in 2012, why not go down with a bellyful of chocolate, eh? The lineup includes The Parlour's Mayan dark chocolate ice cream with cornmeal chile shortbread; tartlets infused with honey, anise and rum or sweet potato in cornmeal crusts with cayenne whipped cream by Hart's Tarts; Cocoa Cinnamon/ bikeCOFFEE's drinking chocolate, Santa Sangre truffles and more; Monuts Donuts' Holy Mole Mexican chocolate and cañela cake donut with chipotle cocoa glaze; and DaisyCakes' spicy Mexican chocolate cupcake with cinnamon-chocolate buttercream. (Where am I going to find a fancy party dress with an elastic waistband?) See motorcomusic.com for more details about the party.

Know of a restaurant happening or food event? Email food@indyweek.com.

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