Small Post/Update

Hi guys,

Sorry I’ve been so lame with the posts lately.  I got over my cold, (yay!) and have been dealing with some potentially really big changes.  Anyone out there own their own business?  We are about 4 years in now, and things just aren’t turning out like we’d hoped.  Any advice on how to weather these sorts of storms would be appreciated.

It is strange who encourages us to keep on going with the business.  No one who has actually owned their own business has–only people who haven’t.  I think there is some mystique about being a business owner–like it is the western frontier or something.  Let me tell you all, owning your own business is no dream and I’m not sure if this is a great frontier-style, coonskin hat type adventure, either!  Yes it is a wild ride, but often leaves me queasy and sick feeling.  It isn’t easy, even on a good day.  It is a lot of sweat, tears, and sleepless nights.  I keep thinking that is has to get easier!  It just has to….right?  Lord help me because it doesn’t seem to be getting any easier–in fact, it seems to have gotten a whole shit-ton harder lately and I’m seriously beginning to think that this isn’t the right path for me any longer.  

I’ll keep you all posted on how things turn out.  In the meantime, our schedule has totally changed (not for the better, might I add!  Anyone want to get up at 4:00 in the morning?  No?  Yeah, that’s what I thought!) and I’m seeing a lot less of Nick these days.  This weekend his parents came and stayed with us, which meant virtually no couple time and no time to talk about all this stuff.  I hope they had a good time.  I’m afraid my general stress over these things showed though a bit and I was bad company at times.  I tried to keep my snarky-stressy self at bay because I really wanted Nick to just enjoy having his folks around.  

It might be too soon to tell what will happen.  All I know is that something has to give.  Either this business needs to start taking better care of us, or we need to find good old fashioned job-y-jobs!  

Anyway, BLAH!  Yuck.  Um, I’ll post some good recipes again, soon.  I promise.  If you have a recipe you’d like me to review, let me know!  I’ll find my inspiration again, soon.  I always do!  I just had to post share what’s up with some of the sweet people who are kind enough to read my silly little blog.  :)

To Cure What Ails….

Yep.  It’s true….

I think I got the cold that has been going around….

:(

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A little airborne and miso soup for breakfast.  I already had my emergen-c with my coffee earlier.  I’ll be hitting up the hot tea here in a bit.  Even though it’s a beautiful, warm day, I can’t seem to get warm!  WTF.

Um, so, it isn’t much of a post today.  Sorry people.  Keep your fingers crossed I start to get on the mend and my stupid sore throat goes away!  :P  

I hope you all are feeling cool-cool-hip and groovy and non-sick’d!  Cheers to not being sick’d.  

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

 

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
 
 

Vegan Sushi (say what?)

Yes.  Vegan sushi!  I don’t know about you, but sushi is one of the tastes that I miss the most since going vegan.  I used to have a “fudge day” once and a while and have it, but we discovered that Nick’s digestion and energy were affected in a negative way fairly immediately post consumption, and this curtailed “fudge day!”  Apparently I lucked out have, quite literally, the digestion of a goat as I never suffered any negative after effects. 

Veggie sushi already exists, but Nick isn’t a big fan of it.  I had a veggie tempura roll one time and I thought it was pretty good, but he doesn’t like “fried stuff” so shunned that, too.  Man, I was just outta luck on the sushi front!  After feeling bummed for just a bit, I got inspired!  I rolled up my sleeves and put my “can-do” attitude to work!

May I present to you Vegan Sushi.  That doesn’t suck!  :)

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It has sweet potato oven fried tempura, tofu, carrots, avocado, and cucumber.  You could add sprouts or lettuces, too.

Now, if this is something you are interested it, a word to the wise.  Making sushi takes time and effort.  I am by no means an expert at this–in fact, I’d say my sushi abilities are crude at best.  But, it is a fun meal to make, and a fun meal to eat, and I’ve improved over time.  First, let’s start with the sushi rice.

Ingredients:

1 Cup Sushi Rice (needs to be Sushi Rice!)

1/2 Cup Water

1/4 Rice Vinegar

1/2 Tbs Vegetable Oil

2 Tbs White Sugar

1/2 tsp Salt

Directions:

Rinse your rice!  Yes, you must rinse it in a strainer of some kind until the water runs clear.  I like to put the rice in a large bowl and rinse it this way.  I *think* this gets some of the extra sticky starch off.  Like I said, I’m no expert here.  I’m just going by what I’ve read and messed around with.  Once rice is clean(?), put in a pot with the water, cover and bring to a boil.  Turn down heat, leave covered, and let cook until water is all absorbed; about 20 minutes or so. 

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While rice is cooking, prepare the stuff that actually makes all sushi-rice-yummy.  In a small sauce pan, put vinegar, oil, sugar, and salt.  Stir over medium heat until the sugar dissolves.  Once the sushi rice is done, pour this liquid over it and mix until totally incorporated.  Don’t worry, the rice will hold it’s shape as the liquid gets absorbed in.  The rice shouldn’t turn into a sloppy, glop on you.

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Okay.  So there you go.  Phew!  Step one of sushi done!  Let the rice just cool, uncovered, and move on to making your sweet potato oven fried tempura! 

Ingredients:

1 Medium Sized Sweet Potato, Peeled & Sliced into 1/4 inch thick strips

1/4 Cup Plain Almond Milk

4-5 TBS White Flour

1/4 – 1/3 Cup Panko Bread Crumbs

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Directions:

Roll the sweet potato strips in the flour, then milk, then coat with the panko bread crumbs.  Place on a well oiled tin foil sheet.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes.  Set aside for use in the vegan sushi.

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My little panko potato minions of goodness before they went into the oven!

….Okay.  You all still with me here?  Alright.  Now we are really getting somewhere!  We got the rice, we got one of the main fillings, well, now what?  Time to assemble your sushi station!

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To make the sushi, you will need:

3-4 Sheets of Nori Seaweed Paper

Prepped Sushi Rice

Prepped Sweet Potato Tempura

1/2 Package Savory Kind Tofu (optional)

1 Avocado

1/2 Cucumber, Peeled & Seeded

1 Carrot, Peeled

Directions:

Cut the tofu, avocado, carrot, and cucumber into nice thin slices.  You can use a kitchen towel, a sushi roller, or even a place mat to help you roll up your sushi.  For the purposes of this recipe, I’m going to pretend that you all have a sushi roller/mat thingy, okay?  So, place a sheet of seran wrap covering the entire surface area of your sushi mat.  Lay a piece of nori seaweed paper on it, then cover it with your sushi rice, making sure to really press the rice down, smoothly and evenly. 

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Next, start layering on your goodies!

 

 

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Next, take the edge of your seaweed paper and start to roll the whole thing up, nice and tight!  You want to be firm, but not so much that you squish the guts out of your roll.  ;)

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Then, slice and serve!  Trick for you guys–use a really, really sharp knife.  And don’t press down too hard as you cut the roll.  Also?  Try not to handle them too much.  This is the stage where mine usually sort of fall apart a bit.  I was amazed that I got any good photos!

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Serve with wasabi & soy sauce. 

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See what I mean?  It isn’t the most elegant looking sushi ever, but with time and practice I think I can get better at this!  Keep in mind that this recipe will yield enough rice and fillings for 3-4 large rolls, which is more than enough for two people.  If you are cooking for more, double the recipe.  Side note:  the sweet potato oven fried tempura were so dang good all on their own!  They’d make a great side for sandwiches or sloppy joes or the like.

I hope you all give it a try and let me know how you make out.  It is a bit of a labor of love for this recipe, but I think that it cures the sushi cravings pretty nicely.  :)  Cheers and here’s to vegan sushi!

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?  :) 

Sweet Potato Stuffed Spud

Hi guys!  Guess who is getting her fall on?  Yep.  That’d be me!  Who is going to be SO sick of autumn inspired foods come spring?  Yep!  That’d be me!  I invite you all to join me in OD-ing on festive, healthy, fall inspired food with this idea I’ve been kicking around for a few days now.

So you know how you can have a stuffed spud with sour cream, chives, bacon, etc. etc.?  Well, I was wondering, what if you did a sweet potato that was stuffed with stuff?  And what if it was more of a hearty, healthy meal?  I’m on a real sweet + savory kick right now and I thought the spud idea could be included in this flavor pairing!  Plus, I’m kinda in love with cooking dinner in one pot these days.  So, three birds, one stone!  Winning! ;)

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Introducing the Sweet Potato Stuffed Spud!  Get your taste buds ready.

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Ingredients:

1/2 Peeled and Chopped Apple (Preferable something firm, tart, and tangy, like a Granny Smith, Fuji, or Braeburn)

1/4 – 1/3 Cup Peeled and Chopped Squash (like butternut or acorn–I used delicata, the trendy squash these days! Chop into bits about 1/2 inch by 1/2 inch)

2 Cloves Minced Garlic

1 Small Shallot, Minced

2 TBS Olive Oil (or oil your choice + a little extra for rubbing on potatoes)

1 Cup Cooked Lentils (I like to cheat, bad Jess! and use the pre-made ones from Trader Joes)

1/8 Cup Dried Cranberries and Raisins

1/2 Cup Veggie Stock

1/2 TBS Molasses

1/2 TBS Maple Syrup

1/2 TBS Apple Cider Vinegar

1/4 tsp Oregano & Dried Sage

Dash Nutmeg

1/8 tsp Ground Cinnamon

Salt & Pepper to taste

2 Large Sweet Potatoes or Yams, Washed Well & Dried

Optional:  Chopped walnuts/pecans

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Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Rub your washed potatoes with oil until nicely coated.  Place on a baking sheet lined with tin foil.  Pop in oven.  Depending on size, they will take upwards of an hour.  You can cut that time down if you want and up the temperature in the oven to 400 degrees.

In a large pot, drizzle olive oil and saute the shallot and garlic for about two minutes.  Add your chopped squash, a little salt and pepper, and cook over medium low heat until squash starts to soften; about five minutes.  Add veggie stock, molasses, vinegar, maple syrup, and spices.  Bring to a boil.  Stir in the lentils, cranberries, and raisin, and let come to a boil.  Lastly, add your apple, stir, and cover.  Turn heat down to a low simmer and let cook until apples and squash are soft, about twenty minutes.

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Sweet potatoes will be done when easily pierce through by a knife.

To plate, cut the sweet potato in half, then stuff with the lentil/apple/squash.  Top with nuts (walnuts are awesome!) and serve with a side salad.  Makes 2 totally stuffed sweet ‘taters!  Enjoy!

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Let me tell you, this meal was indeed the perfect blend of sweet and savory.  The sweet potato was creamy and when paired with the filling, became rich and took on an almost buttery quality.  All that was left were the empty skins.  The raisins and cranberries just added a happy, sweet note and balanced out the shallot/garlic combo.  Nick was skeptical about it, but tore into his dinner in rapid order, and was even vocal about how much he liked it!  All in all, I’m stuffed. ;)

Happy autumn eating y’all!