Weekend Fun + Banksy’s Newest Art

Hope you all had a great weekend!  I’m going to keep it short and sweet here.  

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We did a little wine tasting. 🙂

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We hung out.

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I took impromptu photos! 😉

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It was so beautiful.  🙂

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Karen Doo-Doo got me this!  

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We went here.  Cold Spring Tavern.  Beer + Live Music.

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Ate good stuff.  🙂

Weekend highlight?  Standing on my dad’s deck, with the awesome view of Santa Barbara in front of me, with a warm fire in the chimenea, talking to Heather, while eating a cinnamon roll.  What about you guys?  Hope you all did something fun!

Have any of you seen the latest from Banksy?  It looks like a “score one for the vegans”, but I’m not sure!  What do you guys think?  Here’s a link for you to go see what I’m talking about.  It’s called Siren’s of the Lambs.  Go check it out!  

http://autos.aol.com/article/banksys-latest-art-project-goes-on-the-road/?icid=maing-grid7%7Cmain5%7Cdl19%7Csec1_lnk3%26pLid%3D391120

 

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Have Yourself a Merry Little Friday!

Happy Friday to you!!

Recipe review time!  I’ve been good and posted up some pretty decent vegan recipes, and now it is time to try out a recipe from someone else!  I found a great little recipe on ohladycakes and just had to try it out.  It is for pumpkin cinnamon roll cookies.  Autumn inspired baking?  I’m IN!

http://www.ohladycakes.com/2011/11/pumpkin-cinnamon-roll-cookies.html

There’s the link that will take you to the original recipe. 

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And this is an example of the final product!  Little yummy tasty nom-noms if you ask me!

I ended up cutting the recipe in half because I just don’t trust myself.  I’d eat the whole batch if it turned out half-way decent.  And let me tell you–they were amazing!  So I’m very glad I don’t have a ton of these little guys sitting around, staring me in the face all weekend, saying “eat me! eat me! eat me!”  ….heh. 

More photos:

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The cookie dough was easy to make and easy to work with.  Plus!

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It rolled out and rolled up like a champ!

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Once chilled, it sliced up like a boss.  Not crumbly, not too sticky…just perfect!

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Waiting to go into the oven!  Look at how lovely.  🙂  I trimmed off the uneven edges and had a little taste of the raw cookie–super yum.  I was pretty excited to see how they would bake up!

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They baked like a boss, too.  The house smelled great and I was literally dancing around the kitchen watching them.  Yes, I like my sweets.  🙂

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Oh wait, you get glaze? Um, yes please! 

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Uh-huh uh-huh uh-huh!  …YES. 

This recipe gets high marks for:

1.  Easy.  This recipe, given it has a couple of steps, was still pretty easy.

2.  Taste.  Like heaven! 

3.  Cuteness.  I made my cookies small, about 2 inches by 2 inches.  Easy to pop in your mouth!

4.  Looks impressive.  No joke. 

5.  Originality of recipe.  Pumpkin + cinnamon roll + cookie?  Uh, that’s AWESOME. 

I don’t really think I’d change anything about this recipe.  They could, perhaps be a tad sweeter, but that could mean I just need a wink more glaze.  Uh, more glaze?  Ha, yes please! 😉  Um, I like my sweets. I’d give this recipe a solid 9.5.  It is right on the fringe of getting a 10.  These cookies are pretty addictive.  Make them, share them, and enjoy!

So, here is the actual recipe, if you don’t feel like going and seeing what ohladycakes is up to.  But I honestly recommend going to her site.  She has some really amazing things on there and I want to eat them all!

From OhLadyCakes:

PUMPKIN CINNAMON ROLL COOKIES

 

1/2 cup vegan butter
1/2 cup powdered cane sugar
1 tsp unsulphured molasses
1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 tbsp almond milk
1/4 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
1 1/2 cups unbleached flour
Filling
1 tbsp butter, melted
1/4-1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon

Glaze
1/2 cup powdered cane sugar
1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 tsp almond milk

 

In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, sugar, molasses, vanilla extract and milk on high speed for 1-2 minutes. Add the pumpkin puree and continue beating for an additional 30-45 seconds. Add the baking soda and salt; mix until combined. Add the flour, 1/2 cup at a time, scraping down the sides as needed. Mix until all of the flour is incorporated then pinch the dough to test the consistency; it should be smooth and have a bit of elasticity. If it’s too dry, add additional milk, or if it’s too sticky, add additional flour.
Line a flat surface with parchment paper and sprinkle with flour. Roll the dough out into a 10×18 rectangle (approximately 1/4″ thick). Brush with butter then sprinkle with brown sugar (up to 1/2 cup) and cinnamon. Roll dough tightly, starting at the long end, into a log. Transfer to a baking sheet and freeze for 15 minutes, or until firm.
Preheat oven to 350˚F. Line a large baking sheet with a silicon mat or parchment paper. Using a sharp knife, cut the dough into 1/2″ segments and line on baking sheet. Bake at 350˚F for 9-10 minutes then transfer to a cooling rack. While the cookies are cooling, prepare the glaze by mixing the sugar, vanilla extract and milk. Once the cookies have cooled, drizzle with glaze. Store in an air tight container for up to three days.
Yield: 2-3 dozen cookies
 
 

Warming Soup w/ White Beans & Pasta

Where did the sun go?  The weather changed considerably yesterday afternoon and it suddenly went from sunny and warm to cool, overcast, and threatening to rain!  Well, bring it on, says I!  I love me some great autumnal weather!  Rain?  Oh yeah.  That’s soup weather! 

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I was feeling cold and hungry and whipped this up for dinner last night.  If you find yourself in the same boat tonight, try it out!  It’s pretty easy and tasty.  Oh, and it’s cooked in one pot!  Um, I think I’ve mentioned my love for things cooked in one pot before, right?  😉

This soup really reminded me of minestrone.  With a side salad and piece of garlic toast I was a happy camper!  Nick, on the other hand isn’t such a big soup fan and fought the urge to request something more “filling” for dinner.  However, once he tucked in found that this was exactly what the doctor ordered to cure the dinner time hungers!  So, I present to you, Warming Soup – Vegan – With White Beans + Pasta!

Ingredients:

1/2 White Onion, finely diced

4 Large Cloves Garlic, finely minced

1/2 Cup Chopped Carrots

1 Can Crushed Tomatoes

4-5 Cups Veggie Stock

1 Can White Beans

2-3 TBS Olive Oil

3-4 Servings of Dried Pasta (I used penne, but you could use any other type you have on hand)

1/2 TBS Dried Basil

1/2 TBS Dried Oregano

1 tsp. Dried Thyme

1 tsp. Dried Parsley

1/4 tsp. Dried Rosemary

1/4 tsp. (or less) Red Pepper Flake

Salt & Pepper (to taste–I added what felt like quite a bit to get it tasting just right.)

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Directions:

In a large pot, saute onion and carrot in olive oil until softened.  Add garlic and saute a minute or two longer.  Add veggie stock, seasonings, and pasta.  Stir, cover, and return to a slow simmer.  Cook until pasta is starting to soften, about 6 minutes or so.  Add tomatoes and beans, cover and let simmer for another 10 minutes or so.  Taste your soup to make sure it doesn’t need any additional seasonings. 

And that’s it!  Easy, right?  Right.

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I’m going to enjoy the leftovers today for lunch!  What are some of your favorite rainy weather dinners?  🙂 

Weekend Stuff + Today Stuff

Hi, people!  How was your weekend?  Generally speaking, it was a great one around here….though HOT!  What gives?  Um, weather…you DO know it IS October, right?  Apparently we are supposed to get rain here in the next few days, so going from one strange extreme to the next….for Southern California!

Saturday we kinda holed up because it was so hot (damn near 90 degrees!) and WINDY!  Crazy gusts of wind reached 30 mph literally blew the pebbles off our roof!  So, we watched a movie, ran a few errands at air conditioned stores only.  🙂  Hi, Target.  You were a nice, cool, spot and just wandered around for about an hour…. lol  Got my brother a birthday card and that was about it!  I made mac n’ cheese + buffalo “tenders” + ranch salad stack for dinner.  Health?  Eh, not so much.  But my point of view was eff it–it’s hot and this is what I want to eat!  We watched a kinda interesting documentary about alien conspiracies in South Africa, had a nap, then, after it had cooled off (our house was still 85+ degrees inside!) made regular and vegan custard (for cupcake fillings) and replenished my homemade granola stash.  A fairly productive day, given the yucky weather.

Yesterday (Sunday) the weather was MUCH nicer–still pretty darn hot, but only mild wind.  Plus, it was my brother’s birthday!  I made cupcakes…

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These are the vegan ones.  🙂  I filled them with vegan custard and topped with ganache!  Vegan Boston Cream cupcakes ahoy!  I also made non-vegan ones, but since I didn’t eat them, they aren’t important. 😉

While those were cooling we headed to the beach!

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I don’t know what’s been going on lately, but a far few of these guys have been washing up on the beach here.  This one is still ALIVE.  I never knew that this is what an alive sand dollar looked like!  You can see he’s wounded, or something of that nature, (lost part of his fuzzy purple coat!), but I waded in a little ways and hucked him out to sea in the hopes he’d get another chance.

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That’s a happy dog enjoying himself! 🙂

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The ocean is photogenic.  😉

Okay, so after this fun beach walk, we came home, I finished up the cupcakes, (you know, for brother’s birthday), and made our dinner.

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Oh yeah, HOT DOGS! lol Quick and easy.  The dinner was not going to be vegan friendly, at all.  My mom, as per my brother’s request, made pasties, which are these amazing meat + potato filled pies that you slather with gravy and/or ketch-up.  I may have to see if I can make a vegan version of this sometime.

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Dinner was on my dad’s deck, and the view doesn’t suck!  🙂

Hung out, celebrated my brother, ate, laughed, and probably had too good a time.  😉

Anyway, that’s what happened around here!  Hope you all had a great one, too!

In other news, my car is still running fine.  Don’t know what caused that failure to start issue on Friday.  Oh!  And today we are going to launch our new company website!  It has been a bit of a labor of love, but it is finally ready to go live.  Yay!  Go us!  I’ll post once it is officially ready to look at–we are still working out the last kinks.  🙂

**UPDATE!** Our new website is live!

www.knotdesignllc.com

Go check it out!

Today is going to be kinda busy, for a Monday.  I have to plan for our SEMA ’13 trip, which will include seeing about meetings with prospects, booking our hotel, and touching base with the people we already know.  SEMA is wild.  Cars, car guys, cars, crazy cars!  And it’s HUGE!  I need to figure out how long to go for as it always seems we never have enough time at these things.

Last but not least:  KICKSTARTER.  Guys. I’m running out of time on it.  I’ve sent the link to countless blogs and websites and I’m hitting a bit of a wall as what to do, next!  I’m asking again for suggestions/help.  It seems the issue is traffic getting to my campaign and I’m doing what I can to improve that, but I’m running out of time!  Egads, I think I only have 10 days left or so.

Okay, well, I can’t get bummed out now.  Off to my regular job and time to stop blogging.  🙂  Have a great Monday and thanks for reading!

Fudge & Fudge-y Musings + Some More Fudge Failure!

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Lookie what my mom brought me yesterday!  Apparently she is totally fine aiding and abetting my vegan fudge quest.  So yesterday, I was all set to start veganizing regular fudge when I discovered I am missing a critical piece of the fudge making kit:  a candy thermometer.  How is it that the vegan cook has a meat thermometer and not a candy one?  Haha! There’s a Thursday throwback for you! 😉

Anyway, I hunted around and found this recipe:

http://allrecipes.com/recipe/easiest-peanut-butter-fudge/

And I adapted the recipe.  I made this:

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This is almond butter vegan fudge.  I was pretty buoyed after making it because it was easy to make and tasted great (before it set….cue ominous music).  So I thought, “What would be better than a fudge off?!?  So I set about making this, only with peanut butter.  …..and with less sugar.  (Cue more ominous music.)

I used coconut oil instead of vegan butter; I used maple syrup instead of brown sugar; and I used less powdered sugar, too.  I can hear all of you who understand fudge collectively saying, “Oh no…bad idea! Tsk tsk.” And the lesson I learned is that even the best genius ideas can fall flat and yield suck-y fudge!  

It was a bit runnier than the almond butter fudge, but I though, “Eh, it just needs to set in the fridge.” ….heh.  I’m dumb.  

This morning I woke up very excited about my fudge off.  I pulled the fudge out of their containers and….

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Peanut butter fail.  Tasted pretty good…..but not fudge!  Too melty and caramel-ish.  …And, well, slickery!  The top was firm, but it was still liquidy on the bottom.  Yes, the consistency was just gross.  It began to lose its shape a few minutes out of the fridge.  I’m certainly not eating any more of that!  Plagh!  In the rubbish bin it went.

Now, for the almond butter fudge.

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I can’t help myself but make the photos look okay.  Do not let appearances fool you!  This fudge was WAY too sweet for me.  Overall, I’d give this recipe a just barely passing grade of 6 out of 10.  I’m glad I didn’t make that much of it and cut the recipe in quarters.  I’ll see what Nick thinks about this stuff later.  If any of you want the recipe I used for this, let me know….maybe some chopped almonds would make a difference in cutting the overall sweet factor here.  

I’m going to procure a candy thermometer today so that I can bust into that vegan rice mallow cream!  

Guys.  Have you checked out my kickstarter yet?  If not, please do.  I’m beginning to get worried about it.  I’d love some feedback, if you have any.  Did I not do a good enough job explaining my idea?  Is there something I overlooked?  I’d love to hear from you.  🙂

Oh!  And yes, I DID sample those vegan marshmallows.  Want to know what I think?

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These are very, very, good.  I’ll probably eat them all before I figure out what I can do with them.

Have a happy Thursday!  ….I cannot believe it is OCTOBER.  Where has this year gone?? 

Cinnamon Roll Recipe Review

Guys.  Cinnamon Rolls.  Good ones.  VEGAN ones.

7 ingredients.  Minimal effort.  SUPER good results, as in I couldn’t mess this one up, and the yield was 10, knock your socks off cinnamon rolls.

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Now, for the all important details.  I found this gem of a recipe on http://minimalistbaker.com/

Go HERE for it! ——-> http://minimalistbaker.com/the-worlds-easiest-cinnamon-rolls/ Or just scroll.  I’ll include it at the bottom of the post.

I’m a little bummed because not everything on this site is vegan.  The cinnamon rolls sure are, however.  I’m pleased to announce that this recipe is a solid 10 out of 10.  I almost can’t believe it because I can usually find something to add or improve upon.  I fought the urges to add pecans, raisins, and brown sugar because I just wanted to keep the integrity of the recipe intact and as it was intended.  Super simple.  Super easy. And I’m tell you all–fight the urge, too, because these simply don’t need it.  They are amazing just as they are.

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This recipe gets points for:

1.  Easy instructions + easy to come by ingredients.

2.  Great dough.  Seriously.  I’m trying to think up other ways to use it.

3.  General high level of deliciousness.

4.  House smelled great.

5.  Post copious taco feasting, everyone still wanted to eat these–and ate not just one, but TWO whole ones!  Just that alone should tell you all something.

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Making cinnamon rolls is a multi-step process.  But the steps were easy and so worth it.  Here are the little guys, just chillin’ on the “warming” zone on my stove.

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Lookie how fluffy that dough is!  It was tender, soft, tasty…just perfect.

Nary a cinnamon roll was left.  All plates were licked clean–literally.  Including the baking dish!  I used the vegan cream cheese frosting by following the link provided.

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I will be making these again, very, very soon! Possibly today.  I’m bummed none were left for day after leftovers!

I’ll post an original, Glitterpony created recipe soon.  I just had to share because I made these last night to take to taco Tuesday/game night and they were such a hit.  Do you guys have any great cinnamon roll recipes I should take a look at?  Let me know!  Hope you all have a great Wednesday and I encourage you to wander over to the Minimalist Baker and try this recipe.

Recipe courtesy of Minimalist Baker @ http://www.minimalistbaker.com

Ingredients
  • 1 packet instant yeast
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/2 cup Earth balance (vegan butter), divided
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 Tbsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup + 1 Tbsp sugar, divided
Instructions
  1. In a large sauce pan (or in a bowl in the microwave at 30 sec increments), heat the almond milk and 3 Tbsp Earth Balance until warm and melted, never reaching boiling. Remove from heat and let cool to 110 degrees, or the temperature of bath water. It should be warm but not too hot or it will kill the yeast.
  2. Transfer mixture to a large mixing bowl and sprinkle on yeast. Let activate for 10 minutes, then add 1 Tbsp sugar and the salt and stir.
  3. Next add in flour 1/2 cup at a time, stirring as you go. The dough will be sticky. When it is too thick to stir, transfer to a lightly floured surface and knead for a minute or so until it forms a loose balll. Rinse your mixing bowl out, coat it with canola or grapeseed oil, and add your dough ball back in. Cover with plastic wrap and set in a warm place to rise for about 1 hour, or until doubled in size (see photo).
  4. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough into a thin rectangle. Brush with 3 Tbsp melted Earth Balance and top with 1/4 cup sugar and 1/2 – 1Tbsp cinnamon.
  5. Starting at one end, tightly roll up the dough and situate seam side down. Then with a serrated knife or a string of floss, cut the dough into 1.5 – 2 inch sections and position in a well-buttered 8×8 square or comparable sized round pan (you should have about 10 rolls). Brush with remaining 2 Tbsp Earth Balance (melted) and cover with plastic wrap. Set on top of the oven to let rise again while you preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  6. Once the oven is hot, bake rolls for 25-30 minutes or until very slightly golden brown. Let cool for a few minutes and then serve immediately.
  7. Optional: Frost with dairy free cream cheese frosting or a simple mixture of powdered sugar and almond milk.

Szechuan Curry Recipe Review (yes!) + Recipe Failure (booo.)

Hi guys.  I’m experiencing recipe failure.  I’ll describe my issues and see if you wonderful vegan bloggers and bakers can help me out. 

Fudge.  I can’t stop thinking about it.  You know, the kind you used to get at Christmas?  With big hunks of walnuts?  Yes.  THAT kind.  I can safely blame my mom for my recent obsession.  She sent me a recipe (NOT VEGAN) this weekend for some awesome looking pumpkin fudge.  It has sweetened condensed milk AND marshmallow creme, and butter.  Okay, so I know what to replace for one of the three ingredients….the butter.  Ha.  But what to do about the other two?  I don’t want to use something synthetic and really do believe that I can create a healthy, vegan alternative for these ingredients if I just mess around for a while in my kitchen.

Um…..so far though…. I’ve failed.  😦  I still have hope, so no need to send a suicide watch. 😉

Here’s my thoughts.

1.  Use chia seeds, almond milk, and maple syrup to make the condensed milk.

2.  Use soaked and blended raw cashews to make the mallow creme.

3. This might need to be cooked.  Not sure.  I’d prefer something fab that you throw in a bowl, then boom!  Amaze-balls.

4.  Another different route I could see taking is using dates, walnuts, and maple syrup.  Then add the pumpkin.

Thoughts?  

Here’s what happened in my kitchen.  

1.  Chia seeds mixture isn’t enough on it’s own to thicken up and “set” the “fudge.”  I maxed out the chia, too, so no, it isn’t an issue of adding more.  Tried putting it in the fridge first–didn’t set.  Moved it to the freezer–and it froze.  Rock. Solid.  Er….fail! 

2.  The cashew idea tastes GREAT, and cooks fine, smells GREAT, but isn’t mallow-y and doesn’t want to “set” in the fridge, either.  Not sure if this is a full on fail….yet.  

If you have suggestions, let me know.  I’d love to hear ’em.  🙂

Okay, moving on.  Recipe review time!  Yay!  Oh, I so love sharing a success!  Okay, I made this:

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Recipe Here:  http://myinspiration.tv/szechuan-vegetable-curry-with-special-brown-rice/

From a blog called http://myinspiration.tv/

This recipe gets points for:

1.  Easy, quick, healthy.

2.  Tastes great.

3.  Flexible based on your own tastes.

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I added broccoli and tofu, and cut out much of the chili’s since the fiancee can’t handle the heat.  I also didn’t have bamboo shoots which was a bummer because I could see how they’d be super good in this dish.  Also, water chestnuts would be a great addition.

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I also didn’t have portobello mushrooms and used what I had on hand–crimini.  Here the veggies get stir fried up!

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Time for sauce!  It was a simple mix of tomato sauce, soy sauce, and rice vinegar.  The seasonings: ginger, basil, coriander, and paprika.  I loved the basmati rice with peas and cashews!  I also added corn.  Why?  Because it seemed like a good idea.  And it was.  Corn in rice is awesome.

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Additional changes include using a TBS sesame oil to saute up the veggies, not water, like the recipe calls for.

Overall I’d give this recipe a solid 9.  

Okay, now I’m off to focus on Knot Design for a while.  I’ll keep my fingers crossed that we can come up with something for the fudge. 🙂