Saturday, February 28, 2009

Birthday Joy! (the aliens have returned me to Earth)

She's alive! She's alive! No, I have not been abducted by aliens or joined a weird goat-worshipping cult. Though I do adore goats! Hmm, perhaps I should start a weird goat-worshipping cult. Anybody want to join? Focus River-san, focus! OK, so I've been feeling quite uninspired lately and I just haven't had the energy to do much at all. I really wanted to have a birthday post though, so I've been working on this post for a few days typing a little bit here and there. 

Mr. Wing-It bought me too many presents, so I will only show you my favorite one or else this post will be too Tolstoyan. I wanted a watch with a timer and an alarm, and Mr. Wing-it bought me the most-awesome-watch-ever! It's pink, it's black, and it rocks! My Mr. Wing-it is ever so dreamy! How have I survived this long without a timer to keep me from burning food, over-rising yeast doughs, missing the Ellen DeGeneres show...

Timex Marathon. Isn't it the coolest watch ever? Say hello to my feet.

My next present was a gift from me! I bought myself the Lost in Austen DVDs! Ever heard of it? It's a four-episode TV show about a modern-day girl that swaps places with Elizabeth Bennett.

Lost in Austen DVDs and my all my Jane Austen books.
Studious Bear sneaked in at the last second.

If you are a Jane Austen and Pride and Prejudice fan you will LOVE this show! Unless you're an Austen purist, then who knows. The show is about a girl living in today's London, who is obsessed with Pride and Prejudice and very disillusioned with real life and its lack of romance. Amanda Price finds Elizabeth Bennett in her bathroom, who shows her a door that will lead her into the Bennett's house, and into the story of Pride and Prejudice where she will be stuck. She arrives just at the beginning of the story and she tries to make sure that everything that is supposed to happen, happens according to the book. Of course her mere presence changes everything and nothing seems to be like it should. Elizabeth is stuck in modern London (we don't see much of her), so what is Amanda to do to get her and Darcy to fall in love?

The characters are exquisite! Amanda is very Bridget Jones-ish and charming as could be. The actress (Jemima Rooper) was so well cast and she is extremely lovable. If Darcy appeared rude and rigid in the book, then prepare yourself for something very dreadful. This Mr. Cranky Pants is even colder and more insufferable! Yes, there is the water scene for all the Colin Firth obsessed fans.

Jane is lovely, and her story is greatly affected by Amanda's presence. Lydia is not the annoying little brat that she is in the book, and she is actually very sweet. Kitty and Mary are not a big part of the story, but the girls are adorable.

Mr. Bennett is Amanda's ally, but Mrs. Bennett is not her biggest fan.

Bingley is quite the bimbo, and the interactions between him and Amanda are hilarious. During one of their conversations there is a subtle reference to Jane Austen's "Emma", which you will definitely notice it if you have read that book. Miss Bingley is delightfully arrogant, and let's just say that she will reveal something quite surprising about herself.

If you thought Mr. Collins was odious, you will find him even more repulsive here. This version of the character is downright disgusting! If you watch this, you can finish this sentence: at least Charlotte Lucas...

Lady Catherine de Bourgh is not so evil. She won't win the Miss Congeniality award any time soon, but she is definitely less rigid!

Mr. Wickham steals the show! He is far less evil and much more mischievous than his book-self. Georgiana Darcy's story will surprise you!

There are people who didn't enjoy this show, but I certainly wasn't one of them. Apparently they are making a Lost in Austen movie directed by Sam Mendez! If I had the energy, I would do a cartwheel right now! Well, I don't know how to do cartwheels but I would at least try!

The next present is also something I bought myself: it's Veganomicon! No, I did not have it. The first recipe I made? Chocolate cookies, of course!

Chocolate chocolate-chip cookies with cashews
Chocolate-chocolate chip walnut cookies with cashews as the stand-in nut.

Potato and Greens Soup With Potato-Wedge Croutons
Baked potato and greens soup with potato-wedge croutons.
All soups should have a potato-wedge crouton stuck in them. Or two, like mine here.

Not from Veganomicon but one of our meals from last week that I really want to mention - Jessy's butter bean burgers of awesomeness! We had them breaded and topped with goodies, and they were fantastic. Jessy is the Butter Bean Queen!

Jessy's Butterbean Burgers
I walked outside with the plate to take this picture, too hungry to set up the lights! :)

So, there you have it. This was a really good birthday and I'm even OK with not being in my 20s anymore. I can live with the couple of gray hairs (this means four) that have grown right in the middle of the top of my head.

Happy March to everyone!!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Corn Dog Millionaire, Benjamin Button Mushroom Quiche and Various Sweet Goodies

Well, Mr. Cranky Pants is feeling a bit less cranky thanks to all your compliments. He pretends that he doesn't like being called "cute", but he smiles when nobody is looking. Silly little bug!

One final Vegantine's Day dessert, I dare not call it trifle because it's missing 99% of a traditional trifle ingredients. Let's just say it's a Trifley Layered Dessert! No recipe, you get the idea though, a bottom layer of crushed cookies (plain vanilla or chocolate will do), on top of that a layer of vanilla pudding, then a layer of pureed strawberries, and on top of that a layer of soft coconut milk whippy cream and some swirly chocolate.

Valentine's Day Coconut Milk Trifle-y Dessert

Here's a challenge: try not to eat all of Bianca's Sweet Potato Bread as soon as it comes out of the oven. I dare you! This is one of Bianca's test recipes for her upcoming cookbook! It's supposed to be a loaf of bread, but I usually bake muffins instead of one big loaf. Check out Alison's gorgeous loaf made with the same recipe.

Bianca's Sweet Potato Bread... er... Muffins

Now it's Oscars time! I love watching The Academy Awards, and I haven't missed one show since I was a child. I love it all, the gorgeous dresses, the fashion disasters, the "they-said-what?!" moments during the red carpet interviews, the funny acceptance speeches, and of course the always hilarious opening clips and monologues. So in honor of my favorite awards show, let's make some Oscars themed food, shall we? Let's start with a Best Movie nominee: Slumdog Millionaire... or is it... Corn Dog Millionaire!

Oscar Party Food - Corn Dog Millionaire
I sliced them all up and piled them up like a pyramid

Corn Dog Millionaire

2 tbsp oil for frying
1/2 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 tbsp cornstarch
2 tsp brown sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
cayenne pepper, a dash or a few dashes if you like'em HOT!
3/4 cup non-dairy milk
1 tbsp mustard
6 veggie dogs

1- Pour the oil into a frying or saute pan and preheat over medium-low (closer to medium than to low). I like using a saute pan for this because they have a larger bottom. Teehee, a larger bottom! Sorry, back to adulthood.
2- Whisk together all dry ingredients.
3- Whisk together the milk and mustard.
4- Pour the milk and mustard mix into the dry ingredients and stir until smooth, but don't over-stir.
5- Drop a veggie dog into the cornmeal mix and use a spoon to thickly coat it all around.
6- Transfer the veggie dog to the preheated pan. I use two clean forks to transfer them, and rinse them off and dry them in between dogs. Repeat with all six veggie dogs.
7- Let them cook for about two minutes or until the bottoms look golden brown.
8- Flip them over to another side and cook for another minute or two. The veggie dogs themselves are round, but the batter cooks flat around them creating three sides as you flip them over. So they end up looking like a triangular prism.
9- Flip them over once again to cook the third side for another minute or so.

Next Oscars themed food - The Curious Case of Benjamin Button Mushroom Quiche.

Susan V's Mini Tofu Quiches

These are Susan's Mini Crustless Mini Quiches with spinach instead of bell pepper. I was feeling too lazy to chop peppers and the spinach was already chopped. I cut them all in half and arranged them like a pwetty fwower. Just use button mushrooms and you got yourself an Oscars themed dish.

More Oscar Party/Dinner Food ideas:

  • I was going to make "Marisa Tomei-to" Polenta Squares, but something went very wrong and it ended up looking like Strawberry Shortcake had relieved her hangover in my saucepan. Anyway, how about Marisa Tomei-to Basil Cream Pasta, Marisa Tomei-to Bruschetta, Marisa Tomei-to Basil and Millet Salad, etc.

  • Iron Man-icotti - The spinach in this recipe provides the "iron". 

  • Sean Penne in Milk-less Alfredo - Cashew Alfredo, Tofu Alfredo

  • Kate Winslettuce Wraps

  • Revolutionary Rocky Road Ice Cream (or brownies - recipe needs veganizing)

  • Frank LanJello Shots - Here is a made from scratch one, and here is a dry mix. Probably too late to order it now, unless you have it shipped via Superman.

  • Happy-Go-Lucky... something? Happy-Go-Lucky Black Eyed Pea Croquettes, Hummus, or Cakes? Or are black eyed peas only lucky on New Year's Day?

  • Frost/Nixon - I can't think of anything for this, but it seems like it should be so obvious. Frosted something, frosting something... anyone? I'm stuck!

In case tthese make no sense to you, here is a list of this year's Oscar nominees.

Now, I wanted to leave you with a video of what I think is the best acceptance speech ever: Emma Thompson's speech at the Golden Globe awards for Best Screenplay for Sense and Sensibility. It was such a fun speech, she wrote it from Jane Austen's perspective trying to think of what she would say about the ceremony. However, the video is nowhere to be found. Isn't everything supposed to be somewhere floating around the Internet? Anyway, here is a transcript instead if you care to let your imagination do the rest. I'll update this post if the video ever emerges from YouTube. (Found it!)

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Giveaway Winner and Vegantine's Day Yummies!

We have a winner! Congratulations Krys at Two Vegan Boys Weblog! Thank Heaven for, it would have been impossible to choose one winner from all the fabulous entries! I wanted to be cool so I made a video of the random number generator but it looks terrible:


So here's a picture of the result as well:

Krys' superpower was "the ability to feed the world so there were no more starving children". Nice! I hope you and your family enjoy your new juicer! Just send me an email with your address to wingitvegan (at) gmail (dot) com so I can forward it to the folks!

Thank you to everyone that entered the giveaway - those of you who comment regularly and my Lovely Lurkers! It was so much fun and I am looking forward to hosting another giveaway for you guys soon.

Let's talk Vegantine's Day! I wasn't very inspired this time, maybe it's because of all the excitement about hitting the road. How on Earth did I manage to make so many Halloweegan treats during MoFo? Anyway, let's start with breakfast. These heart pancakes are made with two metal heart-shaped cookie cutters. A large one for the chocolate part and a smaller one for the strawberry centers.

Vegantine's Day Heart Pancakes

Outer Chocolate Hearts

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
3 tbsp cocoa powder
3 tbsp brown sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 tbsp oil
1 1/4 cup soy milk
handful of chocolate chips*

1- Whisk together the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl.
2- Whisk the liquids in a measuring jar or small bowl.
3- Stir the liquids into the dry ingredients adding more soy milk if necessary.

Center Strawberry Hearts

1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
5-6 strawberries, stems cut off
1/3 cup soy milk
1 tbsp maple syrup
1 tbsp oil
1/4 tsp vanilla
1 tsp beet juice (not necessary but it makes them pinker!)
a few sliced strawberries*

1- Whisk together the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl.
2- Use a blender to make yourself a little smoothie with the strawberries, soy milk, maple syrup, vanilla, and beet juice.
3- Blend until smooth and whisk in the oil.
4- Stir the smoothie mix into the dry ingredients adding more soy milk if needed.

Putting the hearts together

1- Preheat your skillet prepared with cooking spray. Also spray your metal cookie cutters all around inside and out.
2- Place the big heart on the skillet, place the small heart inside of the big one. Spoon some strawberry butter into the small heart and some chocolate batter into the big heart.
3- Let them cook on low for a minute and carefully remove the hearts (don't touch them - use tongs!)
4- Cook for a couple more minutes and carefully flip them over with a spatula and cook for a couple more minutes or until a toothpick inserted in both parts of the heart comes out clean. You don't want to brown them, so the heat should be low and you shouldn't overcook them.
5- Repeat for the rest of the batter. You should wipe clean the cookie cutters and re-spray them with cooking spray in between pancakes. Makes 8 pancakes.

* These pancakes were OK but I made them without chocolate chips and sliced strawberries so they didn't live up to their full potential.

My favorite Vegantine's Day treat - Strawberry Love Bugs!

Vegantine's Day Strawberry Love Bugs
I dedicate these to Denny, my Strawberry-Twin!

Vegantine's Day Strawberry Love Bugs
There must always be a Mr. Cranky Pants for balance purposes.
He did not want to have his picture taken.

UPDATE: I blogged about these again in 2011. Check out the step by step instructions!

These are really easy to make, especially if you leave out the antennae. Just slice a few strawberries in half, and dip the tips of both halves into some melted chocolate chips to create the heads. For the face, use a simple powdered sugar icing, and drop some melted chocolate drops on the little bug's body. I cut a tiny hole in the corner of a small ziploc back to squeeze out the chocolate drops. The signs are little pieces of paper hot-glued to toothpick halves. That's it.

Now if you want to give them antennae, you will need to use the melted chocolate ziploc to squeeze out little antenna shaped thingies onto some wax paper. Refrigerate the antennae for about 20 minutes and attach them to the heads using more melted chocolate as glue. Work quickly because they melt in your fingers ridiculously fast. Here are my antennae:

Chocolate Antennae
What? Did you think they were really MY antennae? Like on my head? :)

More chocolate? Sure! These are the same chocolates I made for my previous post, though this time I invested $2 in a chocolate mold from Hobby Lobby. Money well spent!

Vegantine's Chocolate Hearts

Vegantine's Day Chocolate-Cashew-Coconut Yummies
1/2 cup chocolate chips
2 tbsp coconut milk
1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/4 cup cashews

1- Melt the chocolate chips with the coconut milk. I did this in the microwave, at 50% power and a couple of 30 second intervals.
2- Stir in the shredded coconut.
3- Coarsely grind the cashews. I used our Magic Bullet, just a few pulses so they don't become cashew flour!
4- Stir the cashews into the chocolate mix.

That's your chocolate filling if you're using candy molds. If you're shaping these by hand move on to the next step.

5- Spread the chocolate on wax paper and refrigerate for an hour.
6- Cut into your favorite shapes with cookie cutters. Place chocolates on a plate and refrigerate for another hour.

At this point you're done. Unless you want to do some extra work and dip each chocolate into some melted chocolate chips like I did for my previous post. Way too much work for my taste though. Or you can just shape them into balls and make truffles, easier to dip in chocolate! Keep refrigerated! Here they are non-dipped and shaped like hugs and kisses.

Vegantine's Day Chocolate Hearts and Kisses

Vegantine's Day Strawberry Mini Pies

Vegantine's Day Strawberry Mini Pies

These were actually Mr. Wing-it's birthday pies. He's not a big cake man-he's a pie man. Anyway, I have a recipe for the crust but the pudding filling and the buttercream are always a big wing-it job. You could use Katie's pudding awesomeness and a basic vegan buttercream for the topping.

Vegantine's Day Outtake! These were supposed to be Cupid's Cupcakes, but the chocolate arrows look more like chicken feet. So they look more like there's a chicken buried in a heart and one of its legs is sticking out! :)

Vegantine's Day Cupid Cupcakes
This was hilarious, I had to post it!

When life gives you a Lemonade Award... say YAY!! Thank you so much Jumbleberry Jam for my sweet award! It's so nice to get an award from such a super cool blogger like you! I have to pass it on to 10 people, but look at my blog roll and you all will see my predicament. So, I better get squeezin' because I intend to pass this on to everyone on my blog roll!

Wow. This was a long post! Did you make it all the way to the end? Great! Then I can wish you a fabulous Valentine's Day, whether you're celebrating with a special someone or with friends... or alone with your little Strawberry Love Bugs! :)

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Biscuity Scones, Vegantine's Goodies and Superpowers!

Healthy Juicer update: if you have already entered the Juicer Giveaway, you can get an extra entry just by mentioning (and linking back to) the contest on your own blog. Just leave another comment on the giveaway post to give me a heads up!

Thank you so much for playing, it has been most fun! Check out a few of all the awesome entries:

Jane: I would have the power to form an invisible protective bubble around myself so i wouldn't feel the outside temperature, but rather, a nice warm 70 degrees. (Me too!)

Amanda: the ability to tap anyone with my magic wand and they would instantly want to go vegan!Kelly. G: I'd wish for the superpower to speak canine (in case of regional/breed differences, the American rat terrier dialect), mostly so I can ask my middle dog to stop eating his brother's and sister's poo.MaryBe: ...I always thought it would be cool to have a tail! I am klutzy and always thought it would help my balance. (I could use this power!)

Alicia: My super power would be the ability to make reading (books, blogs, whatever) give me the same results as sleeping. That way I wouldn't feel so tired the next day when I stay up until 1am reading blogs.

Becks: I would like the ability to turn any cat I stroke back into a kitten (as they are all eternal kittens at heart) then they could live long, happy, lives - forever with their pet humans.

So many entries; so many creative superpowers! Keep'em coming!

I've been experimenting with the baking powder Biscuity Scones recipe I mentioned a couple of weeks ago. The cooking time and method has been tricky, but I finally found what works best for this recipe. You can add more sugar and some cinnamon, or some sunflower seeds, or whatever you think would work. After trying different variations, I actually prefer the basic version. But my taste buds are plain like that.

Biscuity Scones

Basic Baking Powder Biscuity Scones

1 cup whole wheat flour
2 tbsp dark brown sugar
2 tbsp ground flax seed
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3 tbsp oil
1/2 cup soy milk

1- Preheat a cast iron skillet on low heat and spray with cooking spray.
2- Whisk together the dry ingredients.
3- Whisk together the oil and the soy milk.
4- Stir the liquids into the flour mix just until a dough forms. Add more milk by the tablespoon is necessary (though it shouldn't be too moist). Knead just three or four times.
5- Turn out the dough on a floured surface (I just use a flat, rimless plate) and flatten it forming a 1/2 inch thick circle. It shouldn't be too thick or the scones will be raw and doughy in the middle.
6- Use a sharp knife to cut the circle into 6 triangles. It helps to dip the knife in flour so the dough doesn't stick to it so much.
7- Place the scones in the sauté pan and cook covered for 10 minutes. You might have to remove the lid and wipe the steam down half way through.
8- Flip the scones over using a fork, small spatula or whatever works for you, and cook uncovered for 10 minutes.
9- Transfer the scones to a cooling rack to keep them from getting soggy.

I like mine sliced in half and with some Earth Balance, along with some hot tea and a good book. The second-day Biscuity Scones are best reheated in the toaster because they get their outer crispiness back. They of course taste better when cooked in a cast iron skillet, but we don't bring one on the road so a non-stick frying pan is the next best thing.

Speaking of outer crispiness - affected by another case of the copycats, I made the Sweet Potato and Black Bean Burgers from Jes' blog (Cupcake Punk). Jes is an awesome photographer and just downright cool and gorgeous person! She's even an award-winning cake master! :)

These burgers were so tasty and so full of good-for-you ingredients! Quinoa, sweet potato and black beans worked perfectly together, like the cast of Gilmore Girls. We were out of bread crumbs, so I used these corn flake crumbs, which means these burgers can be gluten-free! I coated them with the corn flake crumbs to make them crispy, since we weren't going to have them in buns.

Quinoa, Black Bean, Sweet Potato Patties
My plate is tying to channel Katie here, with some kale chips and butternut squash fries!

Valentine's day is almost here, so I wanted to make some heart shaped chocolates. It didn't go very well. They taste great, but the dipping in chocolate process wasn't as smooth as I imagined because the chocolate/coconut/cashew center kept melting on me!

Vegantine's Day Chocolate Hearts

Next week I'll probably write up a whole post dedicated to Vegantine's Day foods and recipes. So, hopefully that will go better.

In the meantime, here are a few more road pictures for you:

Pedestrian-turkey safety rule#1: always look both ways before crossing the road
(Theodore Roosevelt National Park)

Dr. McSteamy

Please somebody tell this silly goose that the whole "whassup" thing just isn't cool anymore.

Do I have something in my teeth?
Like it,
Jo? :)