Hi! I'm taking a little break and it might take me a few days to reply to comments and emails. I'll be back soon! :)

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Monday, November 25, 2013

Pumpkin-Shaped Pumpkin Dinner Rolls

Hold on to your bandwidth because this is a picture-heavy post! Today I have such a lovely recipe to share! Hey, American peeps who are celebrating Thanksgiving this week: do you know what type of dinner roll you're going to be baking to accompany your feast? How 'bout these adorable pumpkin-shaped Pumpkin Dinner Rolls? *squeeeeee*

Pumpkin Dinner Rolls (or breakfast!)

How cute are these little guys? I love them!! The recipe that I used does call for butter, milk, and one egg, but replacing the butter and milk is a non-issue, right? Almond milk and vegan butter. Done. To replace the egg I did three things: I replaced some of the almond milk with coconut milk for extra fattiness, I mixed in some bread flour for extra binding action, and I added a little bit of turmeric powder for extra yellowness. Let me break it down precisely in case you want to make these too:

1. Instead of 3/4 cup of milk, I used 1/2 cup almond milk and 1/4 cup full-fat coconut milk.
2. I used 3 1/2 cups of regular all purpose flour and 1 1/2 cup of bread flour.
3. I added 1/8 teaspoon of turmeric powder to the dry ingredients.
4. Instead of an egg wash, I brushed melted vegan butter all over the rolls right after I poked the little holes in them.
5. I baked the rolls at 350 degrees F for 10 minutes and broiled them on low for 4 more minutes. My oven doesn't like to brown things unless I broil them. If you decide to broil them too - watch them like a hawk!
6. As soon as they came out of the oven I brushed a little maple syrup all over them for a nice glossy finish.

I actually halved the recipe, but I'm sharing my modifications as if I had made a whole recipe to keep things simple. Why don't I just post the recipe with my modifications here? Because I would hate for anybody to assume that these unique rolls were my idea (skim-reading jumping straight to the recipe, it happens) when Holly deserves all the credit. These are not sweet like a pastry, but they do have a bit of sweetness so if you don't like a somewhat sweet roll with your dinner you might want to cut the sugar in half. They are also excellent with a cup of hot coffee! :)

Pumpkin Dinner Rolls (or breakfast!) 
Can you tell that I sprinkled a little bit of sugar on top of some of the rolls before I baked them? Delicious! Thanks for sharing the recipe, Holly!

Pumpkin Dinner Rolls (or breakfast!)
Beautiful golden crumb. *swoon*

OK, now that I've hogged all your bandwidth I might as well throw one more photo at you. Say hello to my little (wet) friend!

Rainy Duck

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Small-Batch Lazy S'mores Truffles

Guess who chopped sticky marshmallows without losing her mind? Me! Thanks to Cindy who suggested I dusted the knife with powdered sugar before cutting them, my marshmallow-chopping was a piece of cake. Or a piece of S'mores Truffle...

This is a lazy recipe because we're just going to go ahead and melt the chocolate in the microwave. It's just a basic chocolate truffle with some s'morey goodies thrown in, and then rolled in ground bunny grahams or graham crackers. I used sweet bunny grahams mainly so I could threw back my head and laugh maniacally while I chopped them. Mwahahahahahaha!!

Small-Batch Lazy S'mores Truffles
Makes 14 truffles

4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup full-fat coconut milk
1/4 cup mini marshmallows (or chopped marshmallows)
1/4 cup chopped bunny grahams or graham crackers
1/4 cup ground graham crackers or bunny grahams

1. Combine the chocolate chips and coconut milk in a glass or ceramic, microwave safe bowl. Nuke on high for 45 seconds. Take the bowl out and give it a good stir. Nuke it for 30 more seconds, stir, and repeat until the chocolate is completely melted. This step will depend on the wattage of your microwave.

2. Throw in the marshmallows, gently fold them in and let the chocolate sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.

3. Stir in the chopped bunny grahams and refrigerate until firm enough to shape, about 30 minutes. Give it a stir half way through chilling if you want to speed it up!

4. If you haven't ground your bunny grahams yet, run them through a food processor until powdery. Place the ground grahams in a shallow bowl. Now it's time to make some truffles!

5. Using a small cookie scoop or a spoon, scoop out about two teaspoons of the truffle mix and use your hands to shape it into a ball. Roll the ball in the ground grahams and repeat with the rest of the truffle mix. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Notes and variations:

You can mix it up and roll half of the truffles in ground grahams and half in cocoa powder or chocolate chips like I did.

If you're not happy about using full-fat coconut milk you can use almond milk instead. Use *just short* of 1/4 cup if you're using almond milk.

If for some reason your chocolate doesn't want to firm up enough to roll it into balls, you can throw in some ground grahams in there to show it who's boss. That'll firm it up and teach it.

I use Dandie's vegan marshmallows which can be thrown straight into the melted hot chocolate without them melting into oblivion. If you're using a different brand you might want to test a couple of marshmallows first, to be sure they hold their shape.

Small-Batch Lazy S'mores Truffles
Unintentional marshmallow heart! I *heart* S'mores Truffles! :)

Andrea and I sometimes do this thing where we inadvertently comment on each other's blogs at the same time. Now we both blogged about truffles/balls on the same week! Check out how Andrea saved a failed blueberry flaugnarde by turning into delicious, chocolate coated cake truffles! Synchronized truffling - engage! :)

Today's cute? This overexposed, but under-happy doggie who had to spend an afternoon with us while his mama ran some errands. The horror! Poor little Piggly Wiggly.

Sad puppy is sad

Monday, November 18, 2013

Crash Hot Sweet Potatoes

You know what makes sweet pahtaters even better than they already are in their natural form? Hot spices and sweet brown sugar!

These Crash Hot Sweet Potatoes are all dressed up for Thanksgiving with a spice mix of chili powder, chipotle powder, paprika, onion, garlic, and it's all blended nicely with a good amount of brown sugar. It looks like mine burned, but it's actually just the caramelized sugar and the brownness of the chili powder. The first time I made these they came out soft and soggy because my sweet potato was too big (I halved the recipe) and I didn't have enough sugar-spice mix. I learned my lesson and doubled the mix for my next batch and they came out crispy and delicious. If you also have a monster sized sweet potato you might want to double the sugar-spice mix too! They are very nice with some barbecue sauce...

Crash Hot Sweet Potatoes 
The recipe, courtesy of Donalyn at The Creekside Cook, calls for butter which is easily replaced with vegan butter or even coconut oil. The sliced sweet potatoes are boiled only for a few minutes before they are left to dry on a cooling rack so keep them from turning out soggy later. Then you crush them with the bottom of a glass, brush with your choice of fat, sprinkle with the spice mix and bake until crispy. Aren't they pretty?

Crash Hot Sweet Potatoes 
There is a small window of opportunity to eat these while they're crispy. You have to let them cool down for a few minutes to let the sugar harden up, and then you want to eat them before they're cold! Let's dip one in BBQ sauce! 

Crash Hot Sweet Potatoes

So good! These would be a perfect side dish to spice up the Thanksgiving menu, wouldn't they? Or any menu! Thanks for sharing the recipe, Donalyn! 

Now prepare to have your head explode with the cute creature of the day! This happy little corgi has the cutest furry butt I have ever seen! I love corgis!!! (or corgwn if you're the corgi police)

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Pumpkin Streusel Coffee Cake Muffins

Do you have a million and two recipes bookmarked? Me too. I hoard them like I'm stocking up for some sort of recipe apocalypse. I even have bookmarked recipes that I stashed away three years ago but still haven't tried them! Not this one though - I saw this one the day before yesterday and there was no holding me back!

Can't beat a good streusel topping! When I saw Maggie's Pumpkin Streusel Coffee Cake a couple of days ago I knew I had to have it. There was no bookmarking that one for later. It was like when you're watching an infomercial in the middle of the night because you can't sleep, and you just KNOW that you have to have that automatic letter opener for only $19.99 plus shipping and handling so you pick up the phone and buy it without giving it a second thought. I had to have this coffee cake! The only difference is that unlike those silly infomercial products, Maggie's cake is actually awesome! It has the perfect amount of pumpkin without being too squashy, and the perfectly balanced spices add a delicious hint of fall to the wonderfully moist cake. The cinnamon-pecan streusel goes on the top AND it's also sandwiched between two layers of batter. What?! Gimme!

Pumpkin Streusel Coffee Cake Muffins

You can't quite see that there's streusel topping mixed in there in the middle, except for the pecans, because it's camouflaged between the top and bottom layers of beautiful golden muffin. Of course I made coffee muffins instead of one big coffee cake because that's just what I do. I halved the recipe and ended up with eight muffins that baked for about 25 minutes, so if you want to make a full recipe and make muffins instead of one cake it will yield sixteen muffins. Math skills - I has them. Thanks for sharing the recipe, Maggie!

Now let's wrap it up with some more little goldfinches from our backyard. How many blurry little fincheroos can you spot?

How many blurry goldfinches can you spot?

(A quick message for my awesome email subscribers: I installed a new Pinterest widget at the bottom of this post. Last time I tried to add the "Pin it" button to my blog it caused trouble for some of you, so I'm hoping that this new widget will behave itself. Please do let me know if the widget angers your computer at all and I will remove it in a flash! Thanks!)

Monday, November 11, 2013

Cheesy Juicy Lucy Bean Burger with Caramelized Onions

Oh yeah. Juicy Lucy, Jucy Lucy, whatever you want to call it - this happened today...

It's good as it looks. So let me break it down for you quickly because I know you want to go make your own Juicy Lucy Burger right now:

♦ The burger bun is, of course, Maggie's Newfoundland Bread shaped into buns instead of a big loaf.
♦ The bean patty is Dreena Burton's Mediterranean Bean Burgers.
♦ The cheese inside the patty is Coconut Milk Cheddar.
♦ The cheese melted on top is a Go Veggie rice cheddar slice.
♦ It's all topped with sweet caramelized onions, green onions, and pimientos. 

Juicy Lucy Bean Burger

(Edit: in case you've never heard of a "Jucy Lucy" burger, here's the all-knowing wikipedia with all the juicy deets about the original beef-based burger)

You wanna make your own Juicy Lucy burger? Copycat! All you need is your favorite burger recipe and your favorite cheese, plus whatever toppings you want. I stuffed my patty with coconut milk cheddar because I *heart* it, but if you want a more traditional tasting cheese you can use Daiya or whatever floats your boat. Here's how you stuff it:

Juicy Lucy Bean Burger

Rocket science, no? Dreena's Mediterranean Bean Burgers are SO flavorful! They are kidney bean patties flavored with garlic, parsley, oregano, green onions, red bell peppers, olives. I used pimientos instead of fresh bell pepper and I skipped the olives because I can't stand those evil little things. I'm pretty sure they are the devil's droppings. 

Remember a few weeks ago I told you that Jenn was giving away the official-unofficial Vida Vegan Cookbooklette, illustrated by the insanely talented Ms. Amey Mathews? I won it! All the recipes inside my cookbooklette are signed by the authors, because Jenn chased them all down and asked for their autographs. So now I have my very own special copy of the Vida Vegan Cookbooklette and I get to keep a little piece of the event - that's as close as this anti-social introvert is ever going to get to such a massive gathering of people. Anyway, that's where the Mediterranean Bean Burgers recipe came from, but you can also find it on Dreena Burton's blog.

That's a lot of linkage. Let's take a big gooey, cheesy bite! 

Juicy Lucy Bean Burger 
Yeah, baby! But don't take my word for it. Let's ask a random dog what he thinks of this Juicy Lucy Burger...

Happy Face!
One out of one pup approves!

(A quick message for my awesome email subscribers: I installed a new Pinterest widget at the bottom of this post. Last time I tried to add the "Pin it" button to my blog it caused trouble for some of you, so I'm hoping that this new widget will behave itself. Please do let me know if the widget angers your computer at all and I will remove it in a flash! Thanks!)

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Rocky Road Chocolate Bark

(A quick message for my awesome email subscribers: I installed a new Pinterest widget at the bottom of this post. Last time I tried to add the "Pin it" button to my blog it caused trouble for some of you, so I'm hoping that this new widget will behave itself. Please do let me know if the widget angers your computer at all and I will remove it in a flash! Thanks!)

Let's do a chocolate post, you know, for a change. Oh wait, 90% of my blog posts involve chocolate in some form of another! What can I say, I eat chocolate every.single.day. My latest chocolate treat was a deliciously chunky Rocky Road Bark!

Yummy! This chocolate bark is made with only three ingredients: chocolate, marshmallows, and walnuts. I made mine with a mix of dark and semi-sweet chocolate. You can't see the marshmallows from the top, but if I show you a side-shot you can see them in all their chewy glory...

Rocky Road Bark 

The recipe, via Brown Eyed Baker, calls for mini marshmallows, but the only vegan marshmallows I could find at Whole Foods were the regular sized Dandies. That's OK, I thought, I'll just chop them into smaller pieces. Pffft. No big deal. I see that some of you are already face-palming at my ignorance - one does not simply chop marshmallows into smaller pieces. I nearly lost the will to live while I was trying to cut the sticky things that were like fluffy, delicious liquid nails glued to my knife. Eventually I decided to freeze them for a while before I continued chopping. It was a little easier to chop them frozen. A little.

Rocky Road Bark 

Is this too Christmassy too early? Sorry! Quick, look at this Autumnal picture and cleanse your eyes of the premature winter-holidays display! Can you spot Lady Goldfinch there? We have been invaded by a large flock of these tiny little birdies and I've gone photo-crazy on them. More goldfinch pictures coming soon! Watch this space! 

Spot the Goldfinch!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Crispy Baked Carrot Chips (Sweet or Spicy!)

My oven has an Appliance Identity Disorder and it thinks it's a microwave. Is there a support group for that? Crunchiness doesn't  just happen in my oven - I have to make it happen. Anything that needs to be cooked thoroughly AND become crunchy needs to be baked on the very top rack, practically touching the top of the oven. Otherwise the bottoms are going to burn and whatever I'm baking is going to be raw and soggy. When I saw these Crispy Baked Carrot Chips on Gina's blog, Running to the Kitchen, I knew I was going to have to babysit the oven while the chips baked in there.

Pumpkin Spice Carrot Chips 
Are they not beautiful? The little slices are Pumpkin Pie Spice flavored, and the long strips are Spicy Cayenne Pepper chips. The original recipe for the sweet little slices calls for ground cinnamon, but because 'tis is the season to eat pumpkin everything I figured I'd go with half cinnamon and half pumpkin pie spice. My spicy chips aren't too spicy because I am a heat wimp. I baked them in two batches, first the spicy strips and then the sweet slices, because I knew each batch would require my full attention or my oven was going to burn them. Know thy oven - wise words.

Spicy Cayenne Carrot Chips

While my chips were baking I watched them like a hawk, and I took out a few of the chips that were browning faster than others so they all got a chance to cook evenly. Some of my strips didn't crisp up much, but the ones that did were perfect! They are not hard and crunchy like a thick carrot chip that spent hours in a dehydrator, but they are delicately crispy so that you can grab them by the handful and stuff them in your mouth like a savage. At least that's what I did. My oven baked the slices more evenly than the strips (all the slices were crispy) so I will probably stick to slices from now on, at least until we can buy a more reliable oven. Thanks for sharing the recipe, Gina!

Today's cute-creature photo features a little flock of Red-Winged Blackbirds that found a delicious feast in our backyard. This picture was taken last winter. We haven't had any blizzards this year... yet!

Snowy Red-Winged Blackbirds (Winter 2012)