Sunday, December 25, 2011

Friday, December 9, 2011

The last days of Fall: My belated Thanksgiving edition.

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving! I spent mine in Arizona visiting with my family and friends. It has become tradition that we have Thanksgiving at my parents house, about 32 people this year. It was a great party. This year we had one vegan (me) and 2 vegetarians (my mom and boyfriend). So of course we had TONS of food. Tofurkey, Vegan Ham, green bean casserole with home made mushroom gravy, jalapeno cornbread stuffing, roasted brussel sprouts with olive oil and orange zest, fruit and nut chutney, mashed potatoes with earth balance and a pecan pumpkin pie for dessert! Needless to say I ate my face off and probably gained a few pounds. I was actually so busy eating and mingling that I didn’t take any pictures of our delicious vegan spread! I could kick myself…but I won’t. I do have a picture of the green bean casserole that my boyfriend and I made the week before, just to get us in the holiday spirit. It was very easy to make, and relatively healthy. We used fresh green beans, chopped white mushrooms, veggie stock, almond milk, a little flour for thickening, roasted garlic and spices. Pretty much just find a regular recipe and sub in vegan ingredients. Don’t forget the crispy fried onions to top it with!
Green Bean Casserole with Home Made Mushroom Gravy

Before I forget, I wanted to share my (super belated on this) Halloween costume I wore this year. My crazy girl friends and I went as a big flock of birds. There were peacocks, flamingos, black birds and I was an owl. My costume was inspired by a “owl dress” I saw on one of my favorite blogs. It ended up taking me forever, but I think it turned out awesome! I got so many compliments. I also added to the theme with fun feather eye lashes, a hand made feather head band, black fishnet stockings over brown tights (to mimic bird legs haha) and outrageous makeup! I will definitely have to wear it again next year.
Supplies I used:

Here's the flock!

As you can tell from reading my previous posts I have been on a comfort food kick. I have been craving soup and bread. My boyfriend and I recently made a Butternut squash, garlic and green apple bisque, served with toasted whole wheat French bread. I found the recipe on Vegweb and used it as a guide line. Here is the link: I love reading other peoples recipes, but it is also fun to change them up a little bit. I always try to make my food the healthiest it can be without compromising on flavor or comfort factor. Little things like using low sodium veggie stock, subbing almond milk (it has the least calories of the vegan milks) and baking instead of frying. It may take a little longer, but your body will thank you.
Butternut Squash-Green Apple Bisque with roasted Garlic

Tomato Soup and Cheddar Daiya Grilled Cheeze

Enough of the healthy talk, this is the holiday season. The season for food, fun, friends and family. The night before Thanksgiving at my parents house, my dad and brother always make a big bon fire in the yard. My parents live in a rural part of northern Phoenix so it’s nice and dark out, you can see all the stars. Family friends come over and we all sit around the fire and relax. Coming from a family who loves to go camping, I have always associated camp fires with making Smores. Gram crackers, chocolate and marshmallows….yummy. For vegans making smores is totally possible, and you can get all the items you need at the regular grocery store (we went to Albertsons but not all grocery stores have the same items). For those of you who do not know, regular marshmallows have gelatin in them, an animal derived product. Gram crackers usually have honey in them, try store brand or digestive biscuits. And watch out for milk in the chocolate, dark is usually milk free. You can buy vegan marshmallows at health food stores like Whole Foods, but my mom and I found an amazing rice marshmallow cream at Albertson’s grocery store (Brand I found is "Suzanne's". It was a little messy, but aren’t smores supposed to be?!

Now that we are in December (where did this year go), my mind it back in the kitchen. I have a few things I want to make and do; decorating sugar and/or gingerbread cookies, baking something chocolate and peppermint-y, cook something amazing for Xmas dinner, go see or do something Christmas themed (I do have a fugly sweater party this month), and of course lots of crafting!
Peace, Love and Veggies,

Monday, November 14, 2011

Pardon my absence.

I apologize for my absence. I have been dealing with the sudden loss of a close friend (I am also without regular internet). I have lots of posts planned. And my belated Halloween costume reveal. Stay tuned.
Peace, love and veggies,

Monday, October 24, 2011

All things I love about Fall: Comfort food edition

Its hard to believe that winter is just around the corner. The days are getting chilly. Its staying darker in the morning, and getting darker earlier in the evening. As the season is changing, so are my food cravings. Its time for comfort food season! I have already been busy with my pumpkin spice inspired baking. Now its time to focus on food. I am a big fan of food. And I have been getting better at cooking (thanks to a lot of help from my boyfriend). The other day I was thinking about Shepherds Pie. I have never actually had shepherds pie, but while working in an Irish restaurant I served a lot of it. The thought of veganizing it got stuck in my head all day. So I looked up a few simple recipes online and went from there. I found a recipe from Rachel Ray: . I also looked up a few mushroom gravy recipes on Vegweb and gathered some ingredients. Here is the gravy recipe: My boyfriend actually knew how to make gravy already, so we just used this recipe as a guideline. It turned out sooo good, I almost felt guilty eating it. Making shepherds pie is actually really easy. I will just list the ingredients I used, any variations would be delicious.

Cruelty Free Shepherds Pie:
1 Bag Meatless Crumbles (prepared as instructions say)
1 Can Sweet Peas
Chopped baby carrots (steamed)
3 Chopped celery sticks (steamed)
3 Russet Potatoes (boil peeled, cubed potatoes for about 12-15 min. Mash in a bowl. I added Tofutti sour cream and 1 Cup plain almond milk. You could use vegan butter or Tofutti better than cream cheese too.)
Mushroom Gravy
-I mixed the carrots, celery and peas together in the bottom of my casserole dish.
-Then layered the meatless crumbles.
-Then poured the gravy over the top
-Last I layered the mashed potatoes and covered with foil.
-We baked it at 350 for about 15 min, then removed the foil, sprinkled with parsley and baked uncovered for another 15 min. Let it cool, it will be super hot. Then enjoy!
-I also bought a small loaf of Italian bread to serve with it.

Another fun comfort food dish we have made this month came to us after going to Denver’s Octoberfest. We bought some Tofurkey Beer Brats, hot dog buns and ingredients for Potatoes Au Gratin. Prepared the brats as the package instructed. Made the potatoes au gratin just from looking up a few regular recipes online and substituting vegan ingredients for the dairy and we added some Bac’O bits on top. Don’t forget the yellow mustard for your brats! Another dish that tasted so good it almost makes you feel guilty eating it.
(As you can see I had a little problem with the picture below, I just can't get it to upload. Tease)

Lastly, I have made yet another pumpkin spice inspired dessert. My favorite pumpkin-y dessert I’ve made so far.
Pumpkin Pie Milkshake:
1 slice pumpkin pie, or ½ Cup pumpkin pie filling (I used the pie filling and also added a leftover pumpkin cookie to serve as the crust)
1 ½- 2 Cups Vanilla ice cream (I used Rice Dream organic vanilla, so good)
1 ½ - 2 Cups vegan milk

-Blend until creamy. No matter how much of any of the ingredients you use I guarantee you will love this milkshake! It is very filling, I had half on mine and then froze the rest for another day.
It feels like it took me forever to actually get this post uploaded. I am looking forward to finishing my Owl costume for Halloween this week. I will share the finished product. Hoot hoot!
Peace, love and veggies,

Friday, October 14, 2011

All things I love about Fall...part 2.

I’ve been keeping mighty busy here. Between baking, cleaning and crafting projects I haven’t had much free time. But luckily I’ve found some time today. And may I say it is a beautiful fall day here in Denver. I am definitely going to take a bike ride after this. I am still going strong with the pumpkin spice inspired recipes. Just last night I made my favorite banana bread recipe with a pumpkin-y twist. As I’ve said before, I will add pumpkin spice to anything…so I did. I cannot take full credit for this banana bread recipe. I found it on Vegweb and made a few modifications. This recipe is so simple and delicious.
Here it is:

The only modification I have to make is to add some vegan milk to the batter for moisture. And since I am at high altitude I add a little extra baking powder/soda. To make Pumpkin Spice Banana Bread just simply add 1-2 Tablespoons of pumpkin pie spice (pretty much a given) and sprinkle some on top before baking.
I had a slice for breakfast this morning, accompanied by a home made pumpkin spice latte. My mom gave me her old espresso machine. It’s seriously one of the best gifts I’ve gotten in a long time. I save so much money! I heated up my bread and topped it with some earth balance. It would also be good with some agave nectar or even Tofutti better than cream cheese. This fall twist on a classic banana bread would be a good addition to any gathering this season. I plan on making some to share for a light breakfast with all my family and friends helping cook our Thanksgiving meal this year.

As I am always on the prowl, yes prowl, for new fall inspired products this season; I was so happy to find a pumpkin spice tea! Thanks to the people at Bigelow for creating it. I do admit I have been drinking a fair amount of espresso lately because of my new obsession with my machine, but my all time favorite hot drink has to be hot tea. Bigelow’s pumpkin spice tea is really good. I just drink it alone, but it would also be good with a drizzle of agave or a splash of soy milk. I think I will have a cup now! (In my fave Beatles Love mug)

I have lots of fall crafting projects brewing, but right now I have focused all of my time on my home made Owl Costume. My friends and I are going as a big flock of birds this Halloween. Yeah you heard me right. We meet in large, loud groups, like a gaggle. As you gathered I am going to be an owl. I started on it last night, it’s going to look super cute. I was inspired by a post I saw on my favorite blog “A Beautiful Mess”.
Check it out, lots of inspiring crafts. I am going to wait to reveal the finished product until it’s completely done. Some of my supplies are pictured below. Hoot hoot!
Peace, love and veggies,

Technical difficulties.

I was putting the finishing touches on a new post and unfortunately I lost it (my super slow internet timed out) . I am moving past the loss and hopefully will be able to get a replacement post up later today. In the mean time, here is a picture of the squirrel that lives outside my window. I call him Barry :)
Isn't he cute!?! Please stay tuned...I will hopefully get my intended post up later today!
Peace, love and veggies,

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Pumpkin spice and all things I love about Fall.

I'm not sure if I've said this enough....but I. LOVE. FALL. Being born and raised in Arizona I didn't really get to experience seasons. Pretty much just hot, hotter, and mildly hot. It wasn't until attending college in Flagstaff, AZ (NAU represent!) that I got a little taste of the crisp Fall weather I'd heard about. And now that I live in Denver, CO (it's been 3 years now, crazy) Fall has become my favorite time of year. There is something about the brisk air and changing leaves that I really love. I am getting so excited for dresses w/ leggings, boots w/ knee high socks, pea coats and scarves...I have a huge collection. I am hoping to get some thrifting in and add to this seasons collection. Another big reason for my love of Fall is all the pumpkin-y foods and beverages there are to consume. Mmmm. I am dedicating this month, and probably some of November, to all things Fall-y and pumpkin-y. I am so happy I am adding -y to the ends of my words! My bff Maggie ( Blogs "a few of my favorite things", read it, love it) recently gave me a recipe for pumpkin soup. I made it tonight and it is DELICIOUS!!! Thanks Mags! It's really simple and can be made vegan or non-vegan and modified in many ways.
Maggie's Pumpkin Soup:
1 16oz. Can Pumpkin (or 2 cups if you can only find 32oz cans). NOT pumkin pie filling, that would be gross, save that for the pumpkin cookies I will be writing about below...
2 Bell Peppers (I used one orange, one yellow) roasted, then pureed. I just googled roasting peppers, it's super easy. If you do not roast them just make sure to de-seed and cut out the white parts before blending.
1/2 Cup Cauliflour, steamed then pureed. Optional. You can used other steamed root veggies if you need to add more veggies to your diet or would like a heartier soup.
2 Cups Vegetable stock
Spices to suit- I used garlic powder, onion powder, cumin, chili powder, ground red pepper, ground ginger, Italian seasonings. Any spices to your liking will do (it's all about your preference). I just added a little at a time to taste until I was happy with it.

Blend it all up, heat and your ready to enjoy! I garnished mine with ground pepper and Tofutti sour cream, and served with toasted french bread. This soup is cheap, easy and I'm sure it's going to become a staple in my kitchen :)

I decided to get fancy with the sour cream and make a pumpkin. Stir up a dollup of sour cream until smooth. Then dip the "teeth" of the fork in the sour cream so that just the ends are coated and draw one side of the pumpkin, clean the fork, repeat on the other side and add a stem. It took me a few times to get it thats why it looks a little smudged.

Of course I needed something to wash all this wonderful soup down with. Good thing I planned ahead and bought some Blue Moon "Harvest Pumpkin Ale" the other day. Is there anything pumpkin can't do?
Since I was indulging myself in pumkpin goodness, I had to move on to dessert. I found a recipe for vegan pumpkin cookies last year and they were so good I had to bring them back. I followed the recipe exact and they turned out perfectly. That is amazing to me. You have to try them. I took them to my bf's friends Halloween party last year, and they were a big hit. Here is the wonderful recipe: I added "cream cheeze" frosting to mine.
Vegan Cream Cheeze Frosting recipe:
1/4 Cup vegan butter (I use earth balance)
1/4 Cup Toffuti better than cream cheese
2 Cups powdered sugar
1 Teaspoon vanilla

Melt the butter and cream cheese in a bowl. I just use the microwave.
Stir in powdered sugar and vanilla. Keep stirring until smooth.
Rerfidgerate for at least 10 min before putting on cookies, if you can wait that long.
Easy as that!
My growing makes quite a few batches.

The final product. Topped with a few sprinkles of pumpkin pie spice. I somehow managed to only eat 2! I prefer to share my baked goods with my friends. I have a lot of things planned for this month and next. We'll see how far I get. I have all kinds of projects brewing. Refinishing an end table and breakfast table. Dia de los Muertos paintings. Possibly a hand made Halloween costume. Pumpkin carving. Sewing projects. And of course more pumpkin recipes.

Peace, love and veggies,


Monday, October 3, 2011

Let's get baked.

I have never really into baking, even as a vegetarian. Besides baking with my mom growing up, I guess I had never really gave it a try. I do not have a huge sweet tooth, but after becoming vegan I found myself missing desserts. Kind of the “you want what you can’t have” thing, or in my case “choose not to have”. And I found that most restaurants and gatherings that I’d go to really don’t offer any sweets for vegans. So I jumped on my computer for recipes and went to the cupboard to take an inventory of any baking ingredients that I had accumulated. I ended up having to go to the grocery store and stock up on some basic needs. I have been on a roller coaster ride with vegan baking this year. I have a slight rebellious side and don’t follow all recipes exact. With cooking you can mess around with other ingredients, but baking, especially vegan baking require a few staples. And that brings me to the dreaded (maybe only I dread this)…Egg Replacer. Turns out there are actually a few different egg relpacers that work for different kinds of baked goods. The best solutions I’ve found are on one of my fave vegan blogs, Post Punk Kitchen. (Here is the link to the egg replacer options: In my most recent baking experiment I used an egg replacer that was: 2 Teaspoons baking powder, 1 Tablespoon oil and 2 Tablespoons water.
I call these babies Chocolate Chip Biscuts (they were supposed to be regular cookies, haha)

The source of this recipe said it would be good for binding in cookies. They turned out huge and biscut like! I am not sure if it was from the egg replacer or the fact that I also added the baking powder that was in the cookie recipe that caused this Hulk like product. They were still good dipped in a big glass or almond milk. For future baking I am going to make sure to stock up on several other ingredients for egg replacers and decide which ones I feel turn out best. Stay tuned. I also recently had a baking experiment that worked out great! A non-vegan friend of mine was having a house warming party. She provided a hummus and pita dish as a vegan option for me (my friends seriously rock). I decided I wanted to bring a dessert that I would be able to enjoy as well as share with the party. I found a recipe for Chocolate Chai Cupcakes on vegweb. (Here is the link of the recipe: I made a few modifications to this recipe:
I used 3 chai tea bags
Added almond milk to make batter smoother
Added 1 Tablespoon Cinnamon (the chai tea flavor didn't really come out, other spices may be good too)
And I used my Mini Cupcake Maker!!! I love this thing :-)

The cupcakes were a big hit! I coated the tops with an amazing chocolate ganache. I found a simple recipe on Post Punk Kitchen. Here is the link: They made my cupcakes look like doughnut holes and tasted great nice and chilled.
I look forward to more baking experiments. Fall is in the air here in Denver. Hands down my favorite season. I have been collecting lots of pumpkin recipes...I love all things pumpkin!
Peace, love and veggies,

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The good, the bad and the awkward.

Hellooo, this is my first post of my first blog. I am not the most savvy at these kinds of things so bare with me. My goal for this blog is to share my vegan recipes, the good, the bad and the awkward. As well as cruetly-free products, design, up-thrifting/recycling projects, and crafting. I have been vegan for a little over a year now, vegetarian pretty much my whole life. I live on a simple budget, so I am learning how to cut corners without compromising my health and style, like many are too.  I have spent quite a while this year taking pictures and collecting vegan recipes. Some worked, some didn't. I've come to learn that it is all trial by error and more importantly that we all have completely different tastes. There are some recipes where you do not want to modify too much....but that is also where I have a lot fun. Her recipe may say "add onions", but I may add diced peppers instead. His recipe may say "add walnuts", I may add almonds. I cannot emphasis enough to just have fun and don't worry! You will not die from under cooked tofu or from eating raw vegan cookie dough. A challenge that I have been facing personally is high altitude baking. I had to train myself to remember that not everyone posting rad recipes live up here in Denver. So I have to modify to make it work. I had many flat cupcakes and breads in the beginning but I didn't let that bother me (my boyfriend always ate it all and said it was delicious).

Pictured above: My first vegan white cake...more like a vanilla brownie. Haha. The trick is to add 1/4 teaspoon more baking powder/baking soda...silly me.

My vision for this cake (maybe too big of a project for a first veg cake) was a Banana Split Layer Cake. The picture above looks crazy, but it was actually very delicious...smashed up in a bowl eaten with a spoon. I frosted the cake with chocolate frosting, layered with sliced bananas and strawberries, then layered the rest of the frosting and topped with chopped walnuts. I actually really love this picture. It is such a disaster, but also a reminder of the progress I've made this year.

So enough about my baking disaster. There is one dish that I have mastered (in my opinion) with help from my boyfriend...the vegan "Mac & "Cheese".  This dish has become a staple for us and many vegans these days. It's filling and super healthy. I found my first mac & "cheese" recipe online and made it exactly how they instructed. It was good, but definately had WAY too much vegetable oil and liquids. So we continued to read other recipes, putting together what we liked and adding ideas of our own, kind of like a food experiment. Finally we locked down our favorite version of this recipe. I would like to share it with you!
What you'll need:
1 Large casserole dish, or 2 loaf sized pans.
1 Large bowl/container for mixing the sauce.
Aluminum foil.
1 Box of pasta (any kind, we like shells)
1 Block tofu (firm or extra firm, you'll only use 3/4 of the block)
1 Cup Nutritional Yeast (This can be found in your local health food store in the bulk section, it's bright yellow, great cheese substitute. Ask an associate for help if you can't find it)
2 Teaspoons Oil (we use olive oil, but canola or veg work too)
1 Cup PLAIN vegan milk
1 Tablespoon Garlic Powder
1 Tablespoon Paprika
1 Teaspoon Mustard Powder (don't worry if you don't have any on hand, I've forgotten it before and it still tasted amazing)
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
Bread Crumbs (any vegan kind you can find, whole wheat or panko work great)

Step 1:
Boil pasta according to the directions on the box. While that is working, prepare the sauce.
Step 2:
Get our your large bowl/container for mixing. Take 3/4 of the block of tofu and crush it in the bowl, so it looks like ricotta cheese. Feel free to use a fork for crushing, I use my hands, it's fun. Add the nutritional yeast, oil, vegan milk, garlic powder, paprika, mustard powder and salt, all the ingredients except bread crumbs. Mix very well.
Step 3:
Pre-heat your oven to 450 degrees. When the pasta is ready, drain and put into casserole dish/pans. Pour the sauce over pasta and use a spoon to smooth it out evenly. Cover with foil and place in the oven for 15 minutes. After 15 min, take it out and layer the bread crumbs, as much or as little as you prefer. Bake uncovered for an additional 10 min. Everyone's ovens are different so your's may take longer, use your best judgement.
Step 4:
Let it cool for as long as you can take, dish up and enjoy! Sprinkle with veg parmesean, veg baco's or your favorite hot sauce if desired. Again, this is just how I like mine made, it is all about personal preference. Sometimes we add veg sour cream, chopped broccoli or use silken tofu. Check out other recipes and have yourself some fun :)

The final product plated up with a side of greens and fresh chopped artichoke hearts. Mmmm.

Here is a pan that we made and sprinkled with veg baco's and panko bread crumbs.
In addition to my own recipes and favorite vegan products I will also be sharing other blogs, books and tricks that really helped me transfer into a full vegan lifestyle. It did not happen over night, and slip ups happen. But I am lucky to have a lot of support from family and friends. Oddly enough you will find that a lot of people will be offended by your lifestyle choice. I just tell them it's what works for me, everyone is different. I have read in different books ways to deal with people like that and the questions people may ask you. I know I am doing the right thing for me and that is all that matters :)
Peace, love and veggies,