28 December 2012

Short 'N Sweet

First of all, I forgot to mention in my last post that it snowed on Christmas!!!  I was SO excited!  Finally, a white Christmas :)

This is the view of my backyard, as seen from my kitchen.

And now, for a little more of what I've been doing the past few days!

Custom holiday order of gluten-free/vegan treats!!!  Adapted Chocolate-Covered Katie "Butterfingers," Chocolate Peanut Crispy Clusters and Macaroons.  One of my favorite yoga teachers, Tommy, ordered this from me :)

Custom order for "Pumpkin Dream Brownies."  The lady who ordered these has already placed one custom order for the brownies so I am flattered that she came back :)

Salted Chocolate Chip Cookies with Walnuts, Sea Salt and a hint of Cinnamon.  These were another custom order from a student at the yoga studio where I work.  Her friend follows a gluten-free diet and she wanted to bring this friend some gluten-free (and of course vegan) treats for when she visits this weekend!

Also for the gluten-free friend: a batch of raspberry-filled lemon scones!  Here they are, pre-cut...

 ...and here they are, cut and glazed!  I LOVE the glaze.  It is a wee bit on the tart side but I really like tart things and I'm hoping others do too and that I didn't err on the side of too tart... 

Eating ... 
My mom's dear friend, Rob, had the two of us over for Christmas Eve and he made a special vegan cake just for me!  It was not gluten-free but I SO appreciated the gesture and it looked phenomenal so I had me a big 'ol slice ;)

Here's what the cake looks like...mmmmmmm

This coconut mango sticky rice with rum-soaked raisins and cinnamon was last night's comfort food dinner and boy, oh, boy was it great!  I got the recipe (which I modified slightly) from Allyson Kramer's book, Great Gluten-Free Vegan Eats, which I received as a Christmas gift :)  
I made a vow to myself last night that I am actually going to MAKE recipes from my cookbooks and not let them just collect dust on my bookshelves.  I seem to have an affinity for buying cookbooks and then not making anything from them : /  Tonight I have already decided to make this mushroom-corn chowder soup from her book.  I will post the results of my labor!

I've also been making a LOT of smoothies since getting my Vitamix for Christmas!  I LOVE it and it's a great way of getting in more fruits and veggies (mainly fruit though!).  I've had some less-than-great-results (a few had too much kale and my poor stomach could not handle it) but I've also had some great  ones!  This one here was really good:  kale, cranberries, orange, apple and a squirt of lemon juice.  I know it might sound weird but it sure was tasty!

And THIS smoothie had to be my favorite!  It was a combo of two unfrozen kiwi fruits, 1/3 c. pineapple, 1/4 c. freshly squeezed pineapple juice, 1/4 c. freshly squeezed orange juice (okay, I was lazy and did not squeeze mine but I'm sure the smoothie would be all the better with freshly squeezed) and 8-10 ice cubes. 

26 December 2012

Merry Christmas!

Merry, Merry Christmas all!  Or Happy Holidays to those of you not celebrating Christmas!  It has been a busy past couple of days, what with baking, getting ready for Christmas and, hmm, well, that's about it but time sure has flown!

A lot has happened but I will try to keep this post light on text.  I can't say the same about the pictures though.  There are a LOT of pictures I want to share, which I'm sure is okay with you all!  If you're anything like me, it's the posts with photos that you love and can look at forever!  Those with all text, or at least those primarily text-based, well, those get "skimmed."

So without further ado, a snapshot summary of my past few days :)

 A surprise mail parcel from Sarah!

 Sarah sent me yummy gluten-free/vegan chocolate pumpkin loaf and raw baklava, or as I like to call it, "Rawklava."

 Close-up up the "Rawklava."  This stuff was ridiculous.  I had the best of intentions of eating it over the course of a few days but I brought it in the family room with me, turned on the TV, and it was all downhill from there.  By downhill I mean, I finished it.

 Sarah is so cute--she taped a "Merry Christmas" decal into the box she sent me!

Sarah's thank you card--the same logo as her blog!  Check it out if you haven't!!!

Me in front of my family's lovely decorated Christmas tree :)

Glamour shot, I suppose!

I love this one of my mom--check out her shoes!

Me and momma!

Love this one too...

The A-D-O-R-A-B-L-E card my mom got me.  We are both Papyrus freaks.

LOVE this shirt my mom got me!!  I wore it the same day when my mom and I went to the movies (we saw Any Day Now and we both really enjoyed it).

Okay, so my mom loves sock monkeys, like, LOVES them (maybe a little too much).  Pretty much anything sock monkey will cause her to swoon.  That said, I found this Russian princess-looking sock monkey ornament with a muff, hat, fancy pink coat and little pearl earrings and knew, immediately, that I had to get it for her.  So follows the progression of my mom's excitement upon receiving the sock monkey.  Nothing is staged.

Love this.

And this.

Am a little uncomfortable with this...J/K ;)

Eek!  Okay, that's me opening...

Wait for it...

My set of vegandish bowls!!!!!!!!!!!

Got my mamma a puzzle too.  She's a puzzle master!

So here's another close-up of the shirt I got and pictured on the left is a three-piece set of Dandelion Chocolate Bars--one of my favorite types of chocolate!  Sooooo yummy!  I first tried Dandelion when I participated in Foodie Pen Pals.  My pen pal, originally from San Francisco where the small company is based, sent me one.  I bought more when I took a trip there.

Super excited to make some of these recipes!

This pretty much sums up my mom's and my Christmas morning.  Perfection.

19 December 2012

Lunch, Dinner and Dessert

This will be a very short post to compensate for my looooonnnnnnnggggggg post from earlier.  I just wanted to share some pictures of my lunch, dinner and dessert from today.  All three were utterly scrumptious (that sounds like a type of Willy Wonka candy!) and made me feel really good and invigorated, which I need, given the crap I've been eating lately : /

Lunch was a spinach salad with simple, oven-roasted butternut squash, marinated tempeh "croutons" and pomegranate seeds, tossed in a maple-dijon vinaigrette.  It was super yummy.  I haven't had tempeh in FOR-EV-ERRRR and I don't know why because it tastes great, is versatile, does not upset my stomach and is an excellent source of protein (which I need).

I love eating food that is colorful and pretty to look at.  It makes me feel like I am doing something good for my body.  There is green spinach, orange squash, bright red pomegranate seeds and brown (okay not so colorful) tempeh.

For dinner I had a roasted carrot salad, which was beyond decadent.  I came across the recipe in the New York Times awhile back and have made it a total of three times, to date.  The reason for this is because there is a fair amount of prep work and dish-dirtying involved and, come dinner time, I'm not always in the mood for that : /  Tonight, however, I was up for it, had all the ingredients on hand, and time to spare!  All the prep was well worth the effort.  The dish was phenomenal.

Carrots, roasted in the oven with a cumin-thyme-garlic spread and orange halves placed on top, served with freshly sliced avocado, toasted slivered almonds, fresh parsley and a HUGE dollop of garlic hummus.

As for dessert, as simple as it sounds, I have been really digging almond butter-stuffed dates and oranges.  For dessert I had both!  The almond butter provides a perfect salty, fatty element.  The dates provide a nice, not-too-sweet (and fiber-rich!) element and the orange, like the date, is not too sweet but provides a great juiciness and acidity to cut the sweetness/fat of the stuffed date.  YUM!

HIGHLY recommend this.  Sooooooooooo satisfying and simple!  Just imagine an orange paired along with it...

Baking Bender With Some Recipes!

I have been on somewhat of a "baking bender" as of late, which is to account for my somewhat MIA status.  I've had custom orders, an exciting new prospect, special requests for the desk and miscellaneous christmas plates/gifts to assemble.  I am loving it though!  

Orange creamsicle cookie sandwiches, requested by my friend, Courtney.

I created custom baskets earlier in the holiday season and this past Sunday I attended a special yoga event where I donated a vegan treat of my choice and was commissioned to do 16 vegan/gluten-free "Butterfinger" favors (recipe adapted from Chocolate Covered Katie).  The item I chose to donate was my "Reindeer Food."  It's both vegan and gluten-free, packed with protein and super, super yummy :)  I must have popped, like, three in my mouth after they came out of the oven but then I said to myself, Hey!  These aren't for you!  Stop eating them or there won't be any left to bring in!!  So I listened...to myself...and stopped.

In my excitement baking I TOTALLY forgot to take a picture of the "Reindeer Food" so, fellow readers, you will have to use your imaginations.  Here is the recipe:

Reindeer Food

- 1/2 c. all-natural peanut butter - 1 c. gluten-free oats- 1/4 c. agave- 1/4 c. peanuts
- 3 T. coconut
- 3 T. vegan chocolate chips or sweetened cacao nibs
- 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp. sea salt
- 4 T. almond milk
1.  Preheat oven to 350' F.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
2.  Mix all ingredients together and drop by spoonfuls onto prepared baking sheets.
3.  Bake for 13-15 minutes, rotating halfway through.  Let cool on baking sheet for a few minutes before transferring to wire racks to finish cooling.

Another custom order I received was from my dear, dear mama!  She requested 13 bags of my brownie cookies to pass out to her coworkers.  With eight cookies/bag (this is in addition to the other baking I've been doing), that was a lot of cookie-making!  I finished them today, though, and am very happy with how they turned out :)

Jill, a massage therapist where I work, also placed an order for six bags of vegan goodies to pass out to her clients.  She gave me full reign, allowing me to make whatever I wanted!  I chose to try out a new recipe I've been working with, 
Peanut Butter Pretzel Truffles, and I'm very pleased with how the recipe came out.  I did run my choice by her, though, just to get her go-ahead, which I promptly received ;)
So here it is!  Another recipe!  This can easily be made gluten-free by using gluten-free pretzels :)
Chocolate-Dipped Peanut Butter Pretzel Truffles


- 1 c. all-natural chunky peanut butter (if you have only creamy peanut butter, you may choose to add in 1/4 - 1/3 c. crushed peanuts)
- 1/2 heaping c. organic powdered sugar
- 2 T. Earth Balance, softened
- 1/4 tsp. sea salt
- 2 c. crushed pretzels (do not crush so much that you get a pretzel "powder"--let the pieces still be somewhat large)
- 8 oz. chocolate chips + 1 T. non-hydrogenated shortening, for dipping 
1.  Combine peanut butter, powdered sugar, Earth Balance and sea salt.  Add in crushed pretzels and peanuts, if using.  Cover and let mixture chill in refrigerator for at least an hour.
2.  Use a teaspoon to scoop heaping spoonfuls onto baking sheets, lined with either parchment or wax paper.  Roll into balls and place soon-to-be truffles into freezer for at least 30 minutes.
3.  While truffles are in freezer, melt chocolate chips and shortening in a double boiler on the stove.
4.  Line an additional platter/plate/tray of some kind with wax paper and set aside.  Remove just a few truffles from the freezer at a time (3-5) and immerse, one by one, into melted chocolate.  Remove truffle by scooping with a fork or slotted spoon and scrape off excess chocolate on the rim of the double broiler.  Drop on wax paper.  Continue with remaining truffles, removing them from freezer as you go.
5.  Place completed truffles in refrigerator for a half an hour or so to set.  Wrap with wax paper, as you would a caramel, or place in decorative mini muffin liners!  Give as gifts or enjoy yourselves!!

I also received an order for my Pumpkin Dream Brownies (for December 23rd) and a two-for order of gluten-free raspberry-filled lemon scones and brownie cookies (for December 29th).  Yay!
Now, for my exciting "prospect."  The lady who did my nails last week offered to feature my goodies at her nail studio!  We are going to "test the waters" this, her busiest, week, to see how they do and if her clients are receptive!  She (Jenny) said I could make whatever I want so I chose my Iced Pumpkin Chai Latte Cookies.  Jenny said she would keep me posted throughout the week and already three have sold :)

I will end this post with a picture of one of the Christmas plates I gave away.  The lucky recipient was the family who ordered the custom holiday baskets :)
Clockwise, from left: Brownie cookies, walnut fudge, pumpkin roll, "Speculoos" cookies, peanut butter pretzel truffles and macaroons.