Posts Tagged cookies

VeganMoFo: Native Foods

When I signed up for a conference in Newport Beach, I didn’t know much about the town other than the fact that it was the setting of Arrested Development.  Then, I found out there is a Native Foods there.  Then, I found out it was right across the street from the hotel hosting the conference.  Then, I found out it was under a ten minute walk from the hotel to the restaurant!  I had never had the opportunity to eat there, but could tell from their menu that it was the type of place I would like.

I ate there all four days of the conference, and I was really excited to post about it.  Then, my phone was stolen, along with the photos of my meals.  Sad face!

I’m going to tell you about the dishes I tried there anyway, because they were all so good!  Luckily, it seems like I can borrow other photos from the internet.

photo source blog.nativefoods.com

I first went for a late lunch on the day I arrived, after flying west across the country.  I wasn’t feeling my best and although everything sounded delicious, I knew that something on the healthier side would hit the spot.  I went with the Sesame Kale Macro Bowl – Grilled Native Tempeh atop steamed kale, brown rice, creamy ginger sesame sauce, tangy sauerkraut, gomasio and toasted sesame seeds. Green onion garnish and crunchy cucumber seaweed salad on the side.  I’m a sucker for sauerkraut, and my only complaint was that I could’ve used about triple the amount they gave me.

photo credit – blog.nativefoods.com

I also got an Oatmeal Creme Pie to take back to my room.  It was less authentically Little Debbie-esque than the one I had in Austin, but still very good.  The cookies were thick and a little crumbly, and the filling was like whipped cream.

photo credit – blog.nativefoods.com

Next, I tried their Classic Deli Reuben – thinly-sliced, deli-style Native Reuben Seitan piled high on grilled marble rye.  Topped with homemade sauerkraut, Native Horseradish Cheese and a slather of Russian dressing.  Told you I’m a sucker for sauerkraut.  I’ve had many variations on a vegan Reuben from many different restaurants, and never met one I didn’t like.

The seitan really is pink!  And, like this photo, I also ordered a side of potato salad, which was very tasty and not too heavy, with plenty of fresh dill.

photo credit – http://www.ocmenus.com

For an early dinner Friday evening, I went with what I really wanted: the Oklahoma Bacon Cheeseburger and sweet potato fries.  Thinly sliced Native Original Seitan, melted cheddar, caramelized onions, and crispy Native Bacon on a bun slathered with BBQ sauce and ranch dressing, romaine, carrots, onions, and tomato. Topped with crunchy battered dill pickle chips.  This beast of a sandwich really was piled up that high, and was difficult to put together.  It didn’t really taste like a “burger” since the meaty part was seitan, but it was still really amazing.  Every bite had a different texture and flavor; the warm, melty cheese, the crunchy, smoky bacon, the cool dressing, spicy BBQ sauce and crunchy veggies.  And I adored the fried pickle chips.

Despite making it through that massive sandwich, I had room for dessert.  The Strawberry Shortcake Parfait is vanilla cake layered with almond creme and fresh sliced organic strawberries.  I like a biscuity texture for shortcakes, so the cake didn’t quite hit the spot for me, but the almond creme was kind of mind blowingly delicious.  It was smooth and fluffy and the delicate almond flavor played nicely with the vanilla and strawberry.

photo credit – http://www.ocmenus.com

For my last meal there I had to try one of the entree salads, namely the popular Ensalada Azteca – fresh avocado, cucumber, and jicama salsa atop quinoa, romaine, and an award-winning mango lime vinaigrette. Topped with currants, toasted pumpkin seeds, and cilantro.  It was a massive salad, definitely enough for a full meal.  There were lots of great contrasting flavors and textures going on.  And yes, it did come with a big mango slice and a whole sprig of cilantro like this picture!

I really love their approach at Native Foods.  They make everything in house, including the buns, cheeses, seitan and sauces, and you can tell that a lot of care is put into each plate.  If there was a location near me I would make an attempt at trying every menu item!

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Happy New Year, Let Me Show You My Thanksgiving Dinner!

So, I didn’t intend to take such a long break after VeganMoFo ended!  I fell out of the blogging habit pretty hard there, so now I’ll have to get back into it to get caught up.  Let’s start with the most delicious of meals, Thanksgiving!

We had a big group this year, twelve guests in total, so we cleared all the furniture out of the living room and moved in some tables.

Dave decided we needed a fancy menu like a fancy restaurant…

We prepared a huge meal, so I kept the appetizers light – grapes, veggies, crackers and cashew cheese spread.

The whole spread…The green bean casserole is my recipe, with canned fried onions on top.  Dave was in charge of the sourdough stuffing, which included homemade mushroom broth and lots of fresh herbs.  For the mashed potatoes, I simmered smashed garlic cloves in the almond milk while the potatoes cooked, to have the garlic flavor without the garlic pieces.  I also mixed in truffle salt and white pepper.  They were quite the tasty potatoes.  You can’t see the braised greens here, but they were slow cooked with onion, garlic, fresh tomato and homemade vegetable broth.

I also made Oh She Glows Fluffy Pull-Apart Dinner Rolls, except I let them go too long on the second rise and they turned into cut-apart diner rolls.  Even so, they were light and tasty.  As a special treat, I also made “honey butter” using Earth Balance and Just Like Honey Rice Nectar.  I used to love biscuits with butter and honey, and not having had honey in over six years, I really liked the Just Like Honey.  It has that sweet tang that I remember honey having.

I didn’t want to have to prepare an entree for myself, so I bought a Field Roast Celebration Roast and just zapped it in the microwave.  It turned out a little dry, so the canned cranberry sauce was a nice accompaniment.  I was going to make some gravy but ran out of time; I missed it a little but certainly had plenty to eat.

Dessert was a whole ‘nother extravaganza.  The three pies were store bought because, you know, six desserts are better than three!

By request, I made pumpkin whoopie pies with cream cheese frosting, which are always a hit.

This is The PPK’s Triple Apple Cider Bundt Cake Stuffed with Apples, which was really tasty!  My glaze, sadly, was too thin, but it was yummy nonetheless.

Lastly, Gingerbread Biscotti from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar.  I had never made biscotti before, and it’s quite easy.  You just make regular cookies in log form, bake, cool, slice, and bake again.  Takes a little longer, but the crispy-chewy bite is definitely worth it.  These guys were dark and spicy and gingery, and definitely more-ish even at the end of a big feast.

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VeganMoFo: Other Bloggers’ Recipes Week – Peas & Thank You

I had such a great time with Other Bloggers’ Recipes Week during VeganMoFo last year that I brought it back!  I read tons of blogs on a regular basis and save links to recipes that look good, but never seem to get around to making them.  So, this week I’ve chosen five of my favorite bloggers and made one or two of their recipes.

Posts from last year’s OBR Week:

Vegan Crunk
Oh She Glows
HappyVeganFace
Diet, Dessert & Dogs
Choosing Raw

For my first OBR feature this year I chose Peas & Thank You.  Mama Pea’s site is an entertaining and charming blog, documenting life with her family and their delicious meals.  I chose two recipes which caught my eye the day they were published.

First up is Summer Succotash Quesadillas with Nacho Mmmm Sauce.  The Nacho Mmmm sauce is an adaptation of her original Mmmm Sauce, which also sounds delicious.  These quesadillas were just as good as I expected.  The sauteed onion, zucchini, corn and red bell pepper were a great textural addition to the gooey quesadillas, which I made with Daiya Pepperjack.  The Nacho Mmmm sauce on top was like guilding a lily; deliciousness on deliciousness.  I loved how quick and easy this recipe was to make, and I suspect that most of her other recipes are easy to make as well.

I also made Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Balls to take along to a friend’s house one NFL Sunday.  I made my balls smaller than called for, and ended up with about three dozen.

Out of the oven the centers were a little undercooked, but after cooling the dough balls were perfectly soft set.  The peanut butter/chocolate balance was great, and these dangerous little cookies were all too easy to eat.

Mama Pea recently published a cookbook.  It was already on my to-buy list, but after making these great recipes it’s moving up toward the top!

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Tasty Tailgating

We didn’t do anything grand or fun for the Fourth of July this year, but we did go to an A’s game that weekend.  Weekend games are for tailgating!

In a patriotic bid, Dave made Philly cheesesteaks for the boys, so I made my version with portobello and a vegan cheese slice.  The cheese wasn’t my favorite brand for slices (Tofutti) and didn’t melt at all, but this was still a very tasty sandwich.

I had two lovely CSA tomatoes waiting to be used, so I whipped up a chickpea tuna salad and stuffed ‘em.

Stuffed tomato with grilled corn; patriotic plate and napkin presumably left over from last year.

Last weekend we had a biiiiig tailgate.  Normally it’s just the four of us – myself, Dave and two friends.  This time we were expecting a sister, a friend of Dave’s, his wife, their two friends and their four collective children.  Then, as we were cooking, another friend of Dave’s called to see if we were there.  He was on the way with his pre-bachelor party group, and we ended up having at least twenty five people!  Luckily, we had plenty of food.

Dave’s friend’s wife has celiac disease, so we wanted to make everything gluten free.  In discussing with Dave what we could and couldn’t make, I mentioned that corn tortillas are usually gluten free, so we went with Mexican food.

We started with chips and salsa made from a Rick Bayless recipe.

Dave made carne asada tacos for everyone else, so I grilled up some portobello.  Topped with salsa and cilantro, with a spot of guac on the side.

I wanted a substantial side dish as well, to avoid eating a bajillion tortilla chips, so I made this Mexican Bean and Rice Salad.  I was skeptical that the recipe didn’t include any oil, but the salad didn’t really need it.  If I made it again though, I would use less onion.  I’m just not big into lots of raw onion.

Since we were expecting a crowd, I wanted to make a dessert, and I do love the challenge of vegan, gluten free baking.  These White Chocolate Chip Macadamia Nut Cookies were adapted from this recipe.  I substituted Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free All Purpose Baking Flour plus 1/4 teaspoon xantham gum for the flour, and used kosher white chocolate chips that I picked up at Food Fight in June.  The first batch spread too much in the oven, so I mixed in 2 Tablespoons of chickpea flour which seemed to do the trick.  The recipe says it should make three dozen, but I ended up with about sixty cookies!

I’m off to Portland for Vida Vegan Con tomorrow!  I will be attempting to live blog throughout the entire event, so check back here regularly for updates!

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Food For Sports

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you probably know that Dave and I like sports – we like inviting people over to watch sports, and we love going to games!  Here are some foods that we ate while watching or preparing to watch sports.

Our friend Tom is a biiiiig Green Bay Packers fan, so we were very excited for their final playoff game against the Bears.  (Yes, all the way back in January.)  We had some friends over and observed what we’re told is a Green Bay tradition.  Apparently, Packers fans bring chili to their tailgates, then mix all the chilis together in a giant pot.  We didn’t have a pot big enough to hold all the chilis, so we just mixed them in our bowls.  Well…everyone else mixed them, I just ate my vegan chili.

For an attempt at authenticity, I based mine on this recipe for Wisconsin Chili.  I used soy crumbles instead of meat, and the only other major change I made was to saute the vegetables before adding the rest of the ingredients.  This was a simple chili, and very tasty!  Even the meat eaters liked it.

I topped my bowl of hot chili with some shredded cheddar Teese.

Oh, yes I did.  I made a chili cheese dog, and it was amazing.  Carbs on carbs, mmmmm…

Imagine our delight when the Packers won and advanced to the Super Bowl!  Naturally, we had friends over for a Super Bowl party.  Aaron Rodgers vs. Ben Roethlisberger, to me, was practically good vs. evil, so I was rooting for the Packers big time.

Jake greeted our guests by the door.

I made a seven layer dip a la this post, and served it with Trader Joe’s Corn Chip Dippers, which are awesome.  I also put out some TJ’s Trek Mix with chocolate, which is also awesome.  All on a green tablecloth, of course.

Dave was preparing some sort of meat with baked beans and mac n cheese, so I put together a similar plate.

Buffalo Tempeh from Appetite for Reductions.  SO GOOD.  I will be making this again and again.

Mac and Trees, no trees, also from Appetite for Reductions.  I put some breadcrumbs on top and baked (overbaked) it.  Also so good!

Fantastic football dinner!

I made a Packers cookie cake!  Toward the end of the third quarter, when the Steelers were threatening to mount a comeback, we decided we needed to “consume the power of the Packers” in order to help, and we dug in.  Cookie cakes are always loved.  After The Great Cookie Cake Catastrophe of 2008, when I dropped a blob of icing on the top of the N in NY, I was very careful with the frosting, and so happy with how it turned out!  To make a cookie cake, I just prepare the chocolate chip cookie recipe from Vegan With A Vengeance then press the whole thing onto a round pan covered with foil, and bake maybe a bit longer than the recipe calls for.  The edges get chewy but the middle stays nice and gooey.  The topping is just regular buttercream; I used the recipe from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World.

I like to believe that the cookie cake aided the Pack in the win.  After football was over, we had nothing to do other than look forward to baseball season.  For the first baseball tailgate, we needed a cold side dish to go with some barbecue, and I went with potato salad.

I don’t think a picture of potato salad can really ever do potato salad justice, because this potato salad was super duper delicious.  I started with Betty Crocker’s recipe for Creamy Potato Salad and replaced the mayo with half regular Vegenaise, and half low-fat.  I left out the egg, obviously, and added some relish and fresh chopped dill.  You can never have enough fresh dill.

Perfect meal for eating in a parking lot – potato salad, grilled mushrooms and barbecue tofu.

I wanted to make a special dessert for our first tailgate of the season, and I had a crazy idea about making something with Cracker Jacks.  I googled it, and found out that rather than baking with Cracker Jacks, I could make cookies that taste like Crackers Jacks.

I veganized this Cracker Jack Cookie recipe, swapping out egg replacer for the eggs and using organic brown rice cereal instead of Rice Krispies.  I also added peanuts, because what good are Cracker Jacks without the peanuts?  Somehow, the cookies actually did taste a little like Cracker Jacks.  I don’t like shredded sweetened coconut at all, but it was fine in this cookie since there were so many textures going on.  The cookies spread a little more than I would like, so I want to make these cookies again with more binder, and I’ll post a recipe once it’s perfected.

Finally, I know the Kentucky Derby isn’t very vegan, but its official drink is.  Dave is a fan of horse racing, so he invited a few friends over for the derby and we mixed up some mint juleps.

Apparently there are a few different ways to make a mint julep, but I followed the recipe on the derby website.  It’s super easy.  You just make a simple syrup and chill it with fresh mint, then strain out the mint.  Put ice in a glass, add syrup, whiskey and fresh mint, and sip!  Seriously though, sip.  This is one strong beverage.

We don’t have highball glasses or julep cups, so we drank ours out of half-pint mason jars.  We’re classy like that.

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Tailgate Cookies

In mid-November, Dave, myself and twelve friends went to see the Niners play the St. Louis Rams.  It was a big operation, getting fourteen people, tailgating equipment and enough food and beer over to Candlestick Park.  Everyone chipped in a little, and we had a great tailgate.  And, the Niners actually won the game!  Anyone who has been following along knows this season hasn’t been great for the Niners, so it was nice to see a win in person.

I wanted to make a special dessert, and after remembering my plethora of cookie cutters, decided on sugar cookies.  I used the recipe from Vegan Cookies Take Over Your Cookie Jar.

It took hours and hours to bake and frost the cookies, and it was totally worth it.  The dough was easy to work with, considering how temperamental sugar cookies can be.  Firm yet buttery soft, nobody would suspect these cookies were vegan.  After the game when we reconvened in the parking lot, people asked for more!

We didn’t just eat dessert…

Dave grilled meaty tacos for everyone else, so I had some of my own with taco-seasoned portobello, onion, cilantro, pickled jalapeno, avocado salsa and salsa roja.  Our friend Tom made the salsas, along with the super-garlicky potatoes.  Also on the plate is curtido and refried black beans, made by me, and pinto beans prepared by our friend Teresa.  This was an extremely yummy, flavorful meal.

This is my favorite picture from the tailgate – Dave’s cousin Alex was trying to take a picture of his brother Daniel and his wife, and walking right in the way, this was my reaction when he yelled at me.

More pictures from the game:

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Product Reviews

The main purpose of this blog is to feature food that I make at home, as evidenced by the name Vegan Homemade.  And for the most part I do eat homemade food.  I am human though, and I don’t always have the time or energy to make absolutely everything from scratch.  Especially now that I live close to both a Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s, I’ve been buying quite a few packaged vegan products, and I’d like to share my thoughts on some that I have had in the past months.

I tried these GoodBelly probiotic drinks because they were on sale and I was intrigued.  I eat soy yogurt with probiotics pretty regularly and don’t have digestive issues, so I normally wouldn’t have bought them.  I also take a multivitamin every day and eat a balanced diet, so I’m not worried about getting my vitamins.

But, if you’re in the market for an easy source of probiotics or vitamins, GoodBelly might be worth a try.  I try not to drink my calories, and these little guys didn’t do much to fill me up so I felt like I was adding calories to my day, which to me is not a good thing.  They taste quite nice though.  Fruity, not too sweet, and tangy, the drink is made from mostly fruit juices and purees and some oat flour.  So in addition to being vegan they’re soy-free and wheat-free, great for people with intolerances or allergies.  I probably won’t buy them again, but I would tell anyone who might be interested to give it a try.  It comes in four flavors, and I’d be willing to bet that they’re all good.

Speaking of probiotics, I gave this fairly new brand of dairy free yogurt a try.  It was just…okay.  Good, not great.  Silk soy yogurt is the standard by which I judge other yogurts, and I really love the Silk yogurt so it’s a tough competition.

I also tried one of the So Delicious coconut milk yogurts, and for me it was much too coconutty.  For those who like coconut flavor it might be alright, but not for me.  I also thought it was too thick.

I dont’ dislike all Turtle Mountain products though – far, far from it.  Let’s talk about their ice cream.

A few days ago at work we were talking about sweets.  (I work with three other women, so we have certain things in common.)  We were discussing what our favorite types of dessert are, like cookies or cake or what have you, and I couldn’t really name a sweet that I can’t resist.  Sure, I have a cookie here or there with my lunch, and I’ll eat a vegan cupcake if it’s in the same room as me, but I don’t eat dessert very often.  Most of the time if I want something sweet after a meal I’ll have fruit, dried fruit or non-caffeinated, sweetened tea.  But I digress…

It occurred to me a few days after this discussion that my weakness is ice cream, which I don’t keep in the house very often for this exact reason, which is why I couldn’t put my finger on it.  If I open a pint of ice cream I’m probably going to eat half of it straight out of the container, so I just don’t buy it very often.  But geez Louise there are about a billion kinds of vegan ice cream available at Whole Foods and sometimes a girl can’t resist.

I love peanut butter and I love chocolate, so I don’t really have to tell you how much I like this Peanut Butter Zig Zag ice cream.  I like to have a lot of stuff in my ice creams, like chunks and swirls and whatnot, and the pb in this ice cream is fantastic.

I went back to the Purely Decadent but wanted to try something different, so I went with Chocolate Brownie Almond, because I like all those things.  I like them all together for sure.  In fact, I’m eating this right now as I type.  My singular complaint, and it’s a small one, would be that the almond pieces are soft and there aren’t enough brownie pieces, but I’m not really complaining.  This ice cream is so rich that I can open the container, eat just a little bit, and put it back in the freezer.

For the times I do want cookies, I really like these Peanut Butter Cremes by Back to Nature.  (As well as TJ’s Jojo’s and Newman-O’s.)  They are salty and sweet and not too high in calories.

Another sweet and salty treat is these Peanut Butter Granola Bars by Nature’s Path.  I take two snacks with me to work every day, and some mornings I don’t have time to put anything together.  These are perfect for grabbing, and also perfect for those times you want to tuck something into your purse in case you find yourself ravenous with no other options available.  They’re tasty and chewy and chunky and all around good.  I also tried the Peanut Choco’ version and while they were just as good, the chocolate flavor wasn’t that prominent, so I’ll probably stick with plain ol’ pb.

UNLESS I find their Chocolate Chip Granola Bars, which I know exist but I have yet to find.  When I was younger I ate about a ton of those Quaker chocolate chip granola bars, and I think I would go nuts for the Nature’s Path version.

Speaking of Nature’s Path, I would like to give them a special mention, as I have enjoyed every product of theirs that I have ever tried.  It’s just good stuff all around.  I pretty much always have a box of their cereal in the pantry, my favorite being Optimum Slim.  Their Raisin Bran is great too.

Crackers to me are like ice cream in the way that if I open a box I could easily eat half of it if I’m not careful.  I usually have a box of crackers on hand, but try to reserve them for rounding out lunches and an occasional snack.  These crackers are like my crack.  They have much the same effect on me that Tings do, meaning that I just want to eat them all, all the time.  I can’t NOT buy them though, because they’re so flipping good.  Eco-Planet also apparently makes cookies and pretzel crackers, but I’m pretty sure I’ll always only buy these cheddar crackers.  If you can’t find them, I would say they’re worth ordering online and paying shipping for.  But beware, you will want them again.  And again.

Another brand of crackers I really like is Mary’s Gone Crackers.  They’re gluten free and super crunchy, and I love eating them with faux-egg salad or “cheese” slices, or just by themselves.  I’ve had the original flavor as well as this black pepper flavor and they’re both great.

I’ve been looking for a way to add some protein to my breakfasts, so I picked up these sausage patties last time I went to Whole Foods.  I’ve tried many kinds of frozen veggie sausage links and patties, some good and most not-so-good.  These fall somewhere in the middle.

I like that each patty is only 80 calories, and the flavor is pretty good.  The texture is odd though, I would describe it as spongy.  And the patty is hard to cut with just a fork.  These are okay, but I’ll probably try a different brand next time I’m in the market for sausage.  If anyone shops at Publix, I seem to remember that they had a Greenwise brand veggie sausage patty that was good.

Every time I run out of tea I seem to buy a new kind.  I like almost every tea I’ve tried from Tazo.  (I think Tazo used to have an apricot white tea that was absolutely AMAZING, and they don’t seem to carry it anymore.)  I happened to be shopping in TJ’s when I was out of green tea, so I decided to try this Blueberry Green Tea.  It’s very good, and I think it was only $1.99 for the box which is probably what drew me to it in the first place.  It smells like a blueberry donut!

Whew, that’s it for now.  I think that I’ll document new products as I try them in order to share my ever-important opinions with you all.  Although you can still expect the majority of my posts to be homemade food, I think product reviews can be fun!

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100th Post! Sweets Swap

Yep.  I started this little blog just over nine months ago, and this is my 100th post!  I feel like I should’ve done something big for it.  I knew it was coming.  I should’ve, and I didn’t.  But I did go to a PPK-arranged vegan sweets swap, and I have pictures to prove it.  Also check out Melisser’s and Herbstonne’s posts with more pictures.  They got there before I did so they have better photos of the spread.

Everyone brought sweets to share.  There were a lot of people, and WAY too many sweets.  I brought a tupperware container with me, and I immediately put most of this away so I wouldn’t be tempted to eat it all.

I’m not even sure what some of this is, but all of it was delicious.  Melisser made this ridiculous layered trifle thing with custard, brownies, chic-o-sticks and magic.  Everyone quickly went into a sugar coma.

I made speculaas to take.  I’d never heard of speculaas until I saw them on Cupcake Kitteh, and I was immediately interested in trying them out.  According to Wikipedia, “speculaas is a type of shortcrust biscuit, traditionally baked for consumption on St. Nicholas’ Eve (December 5)  in Belgium and the Netherlands”.  They typically have all those wintery spices, like cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cloves.  I used the same recipe Mandee used, and like her I made them gluten free since that would provide more options for party goers.  I also added black pepper, cause Wikipedia said I could.

Since I changed up the recipe quite a bit, I am going to post it.  My coworker at my fairly new job said of the leftovers “I never would’ve known it was vegan!”.  They have just been introduced to the excellence that is vegan baked goods.

Speculaas

1 Tbs ground flax
3 Tbs hot water
1 c brown rice flour
1/2 c quinoa flour or other gluten free flour
1/4 tsp xantham gum
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp  cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 c earth balance, softened
3/4 c firmly packed light brown sugar
finely grated rind of 1 large lemon
whole almonds, halved, or slivered almonds

In a small bowl, whisk together the ground flax and hot water.  Set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine the next nine ingredients (rice flour through salt).

In the bowl of a stand mixer or with a hand mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Beat in the flax mixture and lemon zest until well combined.  Add the flour mixture and beat until combined.  Flatten the dough into a round, wrap it in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least an hour or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 350 F.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Roll the dough into 1 inch balls and place on the prepared cookie sheet, spacing 2 inches apart.  Using the bottom of a glass dipped in sugar, flatten each ball of dough to 1/4 inch thick.  Press an almond half into the top of the cookie, or sprinkle with slivered almonds.  Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until lightly browned around the edges.  Remove from oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Makes about 3 dozen.

Also attending the party were two very precious dogs.  Molly, who I like to call Snaggletooth.

And Strummer, who is just…small.  And awesome.

So, Happy 100 To Me!  The non-contest I spoke of in my Thanksgiving post is still on.  Whoever posts my 1,000th approved comment will get a package of sweets in the mail.  I was a little premature in announcing…a little further from 1000 than I thought.  But hey, I was in the spirit of thanks and giving and whatnot.  So even if it’s just about how cute Molly and Strummer are, gimme a post!

ETA:  Eep!  I left the xantham gum out of the recipe.  Just added it.  – 12/12

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Annual Baseball Pilgrimage

Every summer a group of us take a road trip down to Tampa to watch the Rays (formerly the Devil Rays) play a couple weekend games.  We chose Memorial Day weekend so that we could recuperate on Monday, as one definitely requires a full day of rest afterwards.  This is my fourth year going, and every year the celebrations grow a little larger and a little wilder.  You can tailgate at Tropicana Field, so we show up a couple hours early and do it up right.

As most of my friends are quite content to eat hot dogs, burgers, and chicken wings all day long, I made quite a bit of food to take along and share.

First we have Joanna’s Beer Brats (the March 16th entry, currently at the top).  The recipe says that she made 10, and for whatever reason I decided to make them really big, and ended up with 8.  These guys were HUGE.  I selected a few bun-sized dogs for the road trip, and put the rest in the freezer.  A few of them were so large I’ll definitely have to chop them up small in order to use them in anything.  These were really tasty.  The texture is distinctively seitan-y, but the flavor as far as I can tell is dead on.  Very similar to Tofurkey’sBeer Brats which I really like, but about a million times cheaper.  Here they are posing with the beer from whence they came.  Next time I’ll use a nicer beer, this is just what I had in the fridge.

brats

I made a big batch of my favorite pasta salad, Wolfie’s Fiesta Pasta Salad from La Dolce Vegan.  The dressing on this stuff is unreal.  The original recipe is a little heavy on the pasta and light on the veggies for my taste, so I added extra peppers, peas and blanched broccoli.  And I used mini bowties instead of macaroni, just because they’re cute.

pasta salad

I also made a “fixings salad”.  The recipe is from the Food Network site, but I can’t seem to find it now.  I’ll post a link later if it’s still there.  All that’s in it is lettuce, tomato, red onion, pickle, olive oil and red wine vinegar, to go on burgers and sandwiches.  I thought it was a really cute idea, and nice since we wouldn’t have to cart all those things individually, but it didn’t go over too well.  It could be my friends just aren’t fixings kinds of people, or that the lettuce had wilted by the time we ate it (it tasted fine though), or that their burgers were mounded so high with mushrooms, bacon and cheese that there just wasn’t room.  Either way, I liked it and may make it again sometime for a cookout.  Just don’t mix it till right before you want to eat it!

fixings salad

Here we have VCON Chocolate-Chocolate Chip-Walnuts Cookies.  These got rave reviews.  They’re delicious and stay soft for days, and the recipe makes a ton so I’m still working on leftovers and have a stash in the freezer.  I can see myself making many variations on these in the future.

cookies

I wanted to take something for breakfast other than a Luna bar, so before we left Saturday I made FatFree Vegan’s Banana Coffee Cake.  I wanted to make it soy-free so soy-intolerant Janeen could partake, so I had to adapt the recipe.  My first instinct for soy yogurt replacement was mashed banana, but as the recipe already contained two bananas I was wary.  I asked Susan of FFV and she replied “you can never have enough banana”, and I tend to agree.  Because I’m a little insane, I made two variations.

coffee cake

For the first I subbed mashed banana for the soy yogurt and added 1/4 cup chocolate chips.

coffee cake

The other variation was peanut butter, because peanut butter and banana is the best.  I subbed 1/2 cup pb for the soy yogurt, flax and water, and added an extra 1/4 cup rice milk to keep the wet mixture at the right consistency.  I also added 1/4 cup peanuts since my pb was creamy, but I would definitely prefer to use crunchy pb in the future, as the peanuts got a little soft once baked inside the cake.  You can see the layer of bananas nicely in this one.

coffee cake

I forgot to sprinkle the cinnamon sugar over the banana layer both times.  It would’ve been nice there in the middle, but the cakes were fine without.  My favorite was the peanut butter kind, although it was a bit more dense and crumbly.  I think everyone else gravitated towards the chocolate chip variation.  15 seconds in the microwave was the perfect fix to warm it back up after sitting overnight.

coffee cake

So yeah, I did all this the night before and the morning that we left.  I packed it all up to go in the cooler…

tailgating food

…and THEN we finally left.  The amount of food and drink (read:  beer) that we took for nine people was a little insane.  It filled up five coolers.  We got through most of it before the weekend was over though.

After the 2 1/2 hour drive, we were happy to find a nice spot in the shade.  Here is what I would look like if I regularly wore things like “hats” and “sunglasses”.  And I even remembered to put sunscreen on the first day!

tailgating

It was HOT that afternoon!  The forecast was for scattered thunderstorms and we brought a big tent just incase, but of course because we were prepared there wasn’t a drop of rain in sight.

For my tailgate meal before the game I had one of the brats on a bun with sauerkraut and mustard, my pasta salad, and another pasta salad Janeen made.  Hers had artichokes, roasted tomatoes, olives and cilantro and was delicious, as always.  She’s got me rethinking my stance on olives, just a little bit.  I also had too many chips, a couple beers, and probably a cookie or two.

tailgating

Here’s the view of Tropicana Field from our area.  This place is large and white and you can see it from very far away.  A lot of people don’t like going to games here because it’s enclosed and all artificial turf, but I like it just fine, mostly because it’s climate controlled.

tropicana firled

It was “70′s Night” at the Saturday game, which involved handing out blue afro wigs to the first 10,000 fans and an after-game show by The Commodores, which we didn’t end up staying for.  It also involved ridiculously photoshopped pictures of all the players.

baseball

baseball

The Rays (along with the rest of the world) are going green!  Any car with four or more people parks for free (which we did with two cars), and look at this cup our beers came in.

baseball cup

Although I don’t think that sentence is gramatically correct…

We stayed at our friend Nate’s parents’ lovely house in Tampa.  They live on a lake, have a pool, and don’t seem to mind if Nate’s friends come in and trash their house while they’re away on vacation.  We’re good kiddies though, we cleaned up before we left.  Saturday night we watched BJ Penn win his UFC fight, and the party lasted long into the night.  I layed down in this hammock for a couple minutes before I realized I had better get to bed, lest I spend the whole night in the hammock.

hammock

Here’s the view I had the next morning while I enjoyed my coffee cake.

lake

My eats at the Sunday tailgate, along with the requisite chips and beer, was a veggie burger with grilled mushrooms and onions, and a marinated portobello, both topped with the fixings salad.

tailgating

I also may have drank some champagne straight from the bottle with the aforementioned Janeen.  Well, we didn’t have any cups and it was the classy thing to do.

tailgating

There is a tank of live rays inside the stadium, so Sunday we went to see them first thing.  You can pet them, and you can even pay a few dollars to feed them, but none of us wanted our hands anywhere near there mouths.  Sea creatures and I don’t get along in a phobia type of way, so petting their wings was quite enough of a thrill for me.  These guys were hard to catch in a good picture, they’re fast!

rays

We had some debate about whether they like being in the tank and having people pet them all day.  They zoom right up to the side of the tank and let you pet them with no problems, although they might just be hoping for food each time.

rays

Courtesy of Adrian, a picture of me taking a picture of the rays.  Adrian’s camera has some neat-o function that singles out colors or something.

rays

Hope you enjoyed reliving my weekend through pictures.  Tonight it’s back to exercise and healthy eating.

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Soft Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

First, since I showed you the wedding present I “made” last weekend, I wanted to show you how I wrapped it up, because I think it’s pretty.  I made a card to go inside the real card wishing them a good time on their Vegas honeymoon, and telling them to look inside the box because I’m afraid they’ll see that they’re wine glasses and not look inside and see the extra-specialness.  I know, I’m overthinking it.

wedding present

I wasn’t planning to go so cutesy with it, but once the glue stick was uncapped all restraint went out the door.

I bought too many oats a while back and have been meaning to use them, so I made these Chewy Oatmeal Raisin Cookies from The Village Vegan.  I haven’t shot the obligatory cookie tower photo yet, so here it is.  I can’t decide whether I like the one with flash or without better.  What do you think?

oatmeal raisin cookies

oatmeal raisin cookies

I made a couple adjustments/replacements to the recipe:  I used half quinoa flour, half whole wheat pastry, subbed canola oil for the margarine, used mostly brown sugar only because I was almost out of white, and mashed half a banana for the egg.  I can definitely taste the banana though, so if you’re not down for that use a flax egg or Ener-G or something.  It’ll work either way.  The cookies are good!  Make them.  I’ve heard the recipe from VCON is good too.

eta:  These get omni approval, both from the former roommate who made fun of veganism almost every day we lived together (in a good-natured way), and the bf who said “oatmeal raisin isn’t my cookie of choice, but these are good”.

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