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,