30 April 2012

Facebook Update!

Quick note--I've updated my "Vegan Delights" Facebook page so now you can view albums with pictures of some of the goodies I've made!


29 April 2012

VegFest Michigan 2012 And Other Goings-On

This was a busy weekend--went to Ann Arbor Friday and Saturday for my sister's graduation from U of M, and today I went to VegFest in Novi with my mom, which was awesome!

Beginning first with my sister's commencement ceremonies and graduation:  we went to Sava's for dinner on Friday night and it was VERY disappointing.  There was not one vegan option.  

Not ONE.

Their salads were not even vegan-friendly.  I ended up designing my own, with greens, arugala, avocado (I think I saw it in there...?), cucumber, spinach (umm...it was listed on the menu but I wasn't brought any...???), carrots? (didn't carry?), mushrooms (nope), and when it arrived my "salad" consisted of a VERY modest plateful of arugala with, maybe two cucumber discs.  So no other lettuce...or substance, for that matter.  I asked for more, and was brought a plain bowl of lettuce (yum), and oil and vinegar carrier because EVERY dressing had some animal product in it--cream, eggs, butter, etc.  I did not photograph my dinner because, really, it wasn't worth it.  

I am kind of amazed that such a vegetarian-friendly restaurant is so unaccommodating to vegans.  I am especially amazed that a restaurant in ANN ARBOR has such limited options.  The waitress did little to accomodate me, either.

On a perkier note, though, my dessert of lemon sorbet was DIVINE.  It looked so pretty in its lemon peel "container" too!  That said, however, I did have one issue with it:  its price.  $6.00!  And for SUCH a small portion.  Literally, I was not even given a half-cup's worth.

Whatever.

It looked pretty and at least I had one good thing at Sava's.

Nowwwwwww for VegFest!  It was AWESOME!  I had never been before and did not know what to expect but I was pleasantly, pleasantly surprised!

The festival was held at the Suburban Showcase in Novi, which was a really nice venue for the event.  Admission was $10/adult, $5/student and with all the free, quality samples that were given away, this was well worth the price of admission.  

Some of the things I sampled were tortilla chips and "Jack's Special Medium" salsa from Garden Fresh Gourmet, DELICIOUS Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter ice cream (made with rice milk) from Treat Dreams in Ferndale (and I am seriously contemplating a visit there this week), flavorful raw lemon lavender macaroons from Rightfully Raw, and these great lemon raisin scones from Bell Mountain Vegan Goods (they don't have a website *gasp* so I cannot provide further information about their company, which is really too bad because these scones were great!).

I did try other things in addition to the aforementioned but those were the best.  That is why they get special attention and credit ;))

At VegFest I also purchased a vegan lip balm from this cute little company, Green Daffodil, based out of Ferndale.  My flavor of choice was Root Beer.  I also really, really liked their Blackberry Sage and Tangerine Sage candles.

LASTLY!  I purchased the most ADORABLE shirt at VegFest from Herbivore Clothing Company.  I really like this company because their graphics are incredibly eye-catching, their messages are funny and the quality of their garments is very good (as are the colors!).  I also bought a sticker from this company and had to resist the urge to by 12 of them because they were only one dollar!

Okay, okay, blah...blah...blah.  That was a lot of text and NOT a lot of images.  NOW for the photos!


I made a new batch of goodies to bring in to work this week and boy, oh, boy did they turn out great!  They are:  BLUEBERRY CHEESECAKE STREUSEL BARS!!!




I purchased a cute little journal to set on my table at work for people to write their comments and suggestions in, and I'm really excited about this!  I will now get to hear how people liked a treat they tried or what they'd like to see again, even when I'm not physically present!  I'm hoping that people will also write suggestions for recipe improvement or what they'd like to see featured.  





We'll see how these move!  Will they be a hit or miss???

I'll post photos of people's entries as they come in.

That's all for tonight.  Happy Sunday night!


I got these cool dots painted on my face at VegFest today and I kind of want to leave them on for yoga tomorrow!

25 April 2012

RECIPE: Sun-Dried Tomato Flax Seed Crackers


I realized the other day that I had been neglecting my dehydrator and, feeling badly for it, decided to put it to good use!

Since getting my dehydrator nearly three months ago, I have been wanting to make bread/crackers and I finally did!

I made crackers!

Here's the recipe, so you can make some of these bad boys yourself!

Sun-Dried Tomato Flax Seed Crackers

Ingredients:

-  3/4 c. ground flax seed
-  1 c. sun-dried tomatoes, soaked 30 minutes or so
-  1-14.5 oz. can fire roasted tomatoes, drained thoroughly
-  1 clove garlic, minced
-  2 small shallots, diced
-  1/3 c. fresh basil leaves
-  1 T. freshly squeezed lemon juice
-  2 tsp. nutritional yeast
-  2 tsp. dried basil
-  2 tsp. thyme
-  2 tsp. sage
-  2 tsp. oregano
-  1 tsp. rosemary
-  1 tsp. salt
Directions:

Combine all ingredients in a food processor.  When fully mixed, pour batter onto dehydrator tray and spread to corners.  Use a pizza slicer to score the batter, creating whatever sized crackers you'd like.  Dehydrate at 105' for 6 hours or so then separate the crackers, flip them over, and continue to dehydrate for another 4 hours, or until desired consistency is reached.





23 April 2012

RECIPE: Vegan Chickie Chocolate-Covered Strawberry Cake Balls

Spring has sprung!  In edible, vegan form!



I decided to make these little guys after a woman at my work asked me to do some petit fours for her daughter's fifth birthday.

Wellllllll, after Googling "How to make petit fours" and seeing the grocery list-length of steps, I decided I needed to think of a Plan B...and these little guys were it!  I honestly don't know where or how I got the idea for them but I'm not questioning it.

Chickie Vegan Cake Balls




Ingredients:

Buttercream Frosting
-  1/2 c. Earth Balance
-  2-3 T. soy milk, or more, if necessary
-  1 T. pure vanilla extract
-  3 c. vegan powdered sugar, sifted


Strawberry Cake
-  1 1/2 c. cane sugar
-  1/2 c. Earth Balance, softened
-  1 starch "egg"*
-  1 3/4 c. almond milk
-  2 tsp. vanilla extract
-  2 2/3 c. flour
-  2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
-  1 tsp. salt
-  1 c. frozen crushed strawberries, thawed--save juice!
*To make the starch "egg," process 1 T. corn starch or arrowroot powder, 1 T. potato starch, 1/4 tsp. baking powder, 1/8 tsp. xanthan gum, scant 1/2 c. water and 2 tsp. together.


Coating
-  1 10-oz. bag of vegan chocolate chips (my favorite brand is Enjoy Life)
*Be sure and set aside some chocolate chips for the chickies' eyes!
-  1 T. vegetable shortening
-  Toasted coconut (I didn't really measure out an amount, I just toasted what I thought would be enough coconut to coat all my little chickies!)
-  Raw almonds



Directions:
1.  Preheat oven to 375.'  Spray a baking sheet with canola oil and set aside.
2.  While oven is preheating, mix frosting ingredients together by first mixing the Earth Balance, soy milk and extract together and then slooooowly sifting in the powdered sugar.  After ingredients are mixed, put frosting into an airtight container and place in refrigerator for it to firm up a bit.
3.  Create "starch egg," following the recipe provided* and set aside.
4.  Use a large mixing bowl to cream sugar and Earth Balance together until light and fluffy, about three minutes.  Then add the "starch egg" until incorporated and then add milk and extract.
5.  In a separate bowl, combine dry ingredients and slowly add dry ingredients to the wet mixture, scraping the sides of the mixing bowl as it mixes.
6.  When ingredients are well mixed, turn off the mixer and, by hand, stir in the crushed strawberries and juice.  The consistency will be somewhat runny.
7.  Pour batter into prepared baking sheet and bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes.  Because this cake is so thin, you kind of have to keep an eye on it as it bakes, so as not to overbake it!  Cake is ready when its edges come away from the sides of the baking sheet and are slightly golden.
8.  Remove cake from oven, reduce temperature to 300' and allow cake to cool on cookie racks.
9.  When cake has cooled, cut off edges, rip cake into pieces and place into mixing bowl.  Remove frosting from refrigerator, add to cake crumbles, and mix cake and frosting together until you achieve a moist "dough."
10.  Use a 1" cookie scoop/releaser to scoop out dough.  Roll dough into balls and place on a wax paper-lined tray.  When all your cake balls are made, place them in the freezer for at least one hour.
11.  When it's getting close to an hour's time, begin to melt your chocolate, in preparation of coating your cake balls (still leave them in the freezer at this point!).
12.  Create your own double boiler--or if you have one, use that!--by filling a pot with enough water so that when you set a heat-resistant bowl over it, the bottom and about 1/3 of the sides of the bowl makes contact with the water.
13.  Turn the burner to medium and pour in the bag of chocolate chips--make sure you've set some aside!  Stir the chips every now and then and when all of them are melted, add the vegetable shortening and continue to stir the chocolate.
14.  Remove a few cake balls from freezer and allow them to warm up a bit while you prepare your other toppings.
15.  Pour coconut onto a metal baking sheet and toast in the oven for 10 minutes.  Remove and place sheet into refrigerator.
16.  Halve some almonds, both width-wise and length-wise so that you have pieces for the chickies' beaks and their feet.
17.  Remove coconut from refrigerator and line up all the toppings so that you're organized and ready to go because you have to work quickly!
18.  Now for the fun part!  Puncture cake ball with a wooden stick (taking care not to go all the way through) and dip ball in chocolate.  If the bowl of chocolate is too shallow, use a spoon to pour chocolate over areas of the ball not touched in "the dunk."
19.  When fully coated, stick feet onto bottom of cake ball and beak onto front of cake ball. Add chocolate chip eyes and then sprinkle toasted coconut over entire chick.
20.  Carefully remove stick from chick and sprinkle extra coconut over the hole in its head.
21.  Locate a pancake turner, pie server or some other flat, metal kitchen utensil to lift up the chickie to place on another wax paper-lined sheet.  Return finished chickie to the freezer to set.
22.  Repeat until all chickies are done.




*Note:  You can totally get creative with these guys!  I coated some with non-toasted coconut, yellow sugar, turbinado sugar, ground almonds...I even left one naked!  Just chocolate!  You're not limited to these modifications, though!  You could make a little demon chickie with red, dried cherry eyes or a little girl chickie with a Twizzler's bow.  You could also try out other animals entirely.  I only provide you this template!  This recipe is not mine anymore--it's yours with which to experiment and play!


22 April 2012

RECIPE: Oh-So-Simple Banana Pudding


A lot of the things I make are somewhat time-consuming, both in terms of their preparation and their cooking time.  While I don't always mind putting forth the extra effort (because I know what awaits me will be a delicious meal), this morning I just wanted to EAT.

I was hungry and wanted something quickly.


I looked over at my fruit bowl and saw two perfectly ripe bananas staring right back at me.  They were honking, too.


Hmmmmm
, I thought.


I didn't really want just one...or two...plain bananas so I thought pureeing them, adding diced apple and a dash of cinnamon would do the trick.  It did!  My pudding had layers of flavor, a nice contrast in textures, between the smooth and creamy pureed bananas and crunchy apples, and was immensely satisfying.





Oh-So-Simple Banana Pudding

Ingredients:

-  2 large ripe bananas (3, if they're on the smaller side)
-  1 Fuji apple (or apple of your choice), diced and unpeeled
-  1/2 tsp. cinnamon
-  Pinch of sea salt (if you're like me and think salt enhances any and everything that is sweet)

Directions:

Remove bananas from their peels, place them in a bowl and mash them slightly with a fork.  Use an immersion blender to puree bananas until a desired consistency is achieved.  Add the diced apple to the puree, sprinkle with cinnamon and salt, if using, and garnish with apple wedges!  That's it!

21 April 2012

Random Meals

I know I've lapsed in my blog posting so here's some of what I've made over the past few days!

Here we have a sun-dried tomato and asparagus frittata.  I cannot take credit for the recipe, though.  I got it from my Vegan With A Vengeance cookbook.  I did, however, improvise with the sides of roasted sweet potatoes and orange :)

Just look at the hunk of asparagus.  Yum.

 My frittata leftovers made their way into sandwich form!  Very, very similar to a sammy I had the other day, except that one had arugala (this one does not) and that one lacked frittata! 

That's the stuff.

Here is a salad I made for me mom, actually.  It is wilted arugala with barley sauteed in a bit of oil, garlic and onion, tossed in a mint vinaigrette and topped with toasted hazelnuts and a bit of lemon zest!

 My veganized "Waldorf" Salad: organic, ├╝ber crispy Romaine lettuce, crisp Fuji apples, my awesome smoked cashew nut cheese from Punk Rawk Labs, some organic, plump, juicy Thompson raisins and, of course, my favorite maple dijon vinaigrette.  Perfection.

Last, but not least, my raw spaghetti.  I am not a raw food purist by ANY means but it is fun to "do" raw from time to time and to think of creative, innovative ways to use whole foods.  Here, the spaghetti is zucchini noodles, which are blanketed in a chunky, spicy, barbequey-tomato sauce, made of sun-dried tomatoes, a chipotle pepper, black garlic, some water and some other secrets!


My Recent HUGE Cookie Order!

Sooooo...those of you may or may not know that I practice yoga.  A lot.  Like, every day.  I love it, though, and cannot imagine not having yoga in my life.  There are, of course, rest days that I take to recharge my mind and body but then I'm right back at it!!


I usually go to the 6:30 am weekday classes and Missy is the woman who teaches them (well, except on Wednesdays and Fridays).


Welllllll she placed a HUGE order not too long ago.  Soooo exciting!!!  Sixty cookies--30 peanut butter chocolate chunk oatmeal and 30 chocolate chunk oatmeal.


Missy wanted ordered the cookies to give as favors for a surprise party she was having for another yoga teacher at my studio.












I followed up with Missy after the party and she told me the cookies were a huge hit!  Yay!  

18 April 2012