Sunday, May 19, 2013

Clue #5

An Ode to Tooni

Her stomach hangs so lowly
That it acts much like a broom.
Her hairballs stain the carpet
And her sh*t can clear the room.

She doesn't like to play
And yet she hates when you ignore her.
She clearly loves you more.
Sometimes I swear, I just deplore her.

I guess she can be cute,
Like when she saves you on the floor.
Ready for your clue?
B*tch is starving.  Feed her more.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Spinach Gnocchi

My, oh my. This girl's last post was in OCTOBER. Unacceptable.

I do have some valid excuses, friends. I swear.

A lot of change has happened. But everything is getting better and I'm still cooking! I have two jobs now and not a day off, so the cooking doesn't happen as much as I'd like. But it's happening. And there's something else brewing in the world of I Can't Believe It's Not Dead! That'll have to wait, though. :)

Onto food!!!

Potatoes are a staple in my apartment. Whether it's whipping up potato cakes, a mean baked potato, or potato and leek soup, I love these lil' buggers. This weekend, I decided to have my first try at gnocchi.

Gnocchi is basically a potato-based, airy, pasta-like dumpling. I have honestly never made them before, so I was a little worried! Folks, I'm pretty sure these were the easiest thing I've made. Seriously. You have to try them.

Spinach Gnocchi
Prep time: 1 hour
Cook time: 3-5 minutes

2 pounds medium potatoes, washed and scrubbed clean
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 - 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 package frozen chopped spinach, defrosted

1. Preheat oven to 400° F. Using a fork, carefully poke holes all over the potatoes. Bake them for 45 minutes to an hour. Let these guys cool completely before handling them.

2. You should be able to easily remove the skins from the potatoes. Place the potato in a large mixing bowl (I used my trusty KitchenAid. Thanks, Dei.). Add the olive oil and salt and mash really well. Add the flour by the 1/2 cup and incorporate it into the potatoes. Keep adding flour and lightly knead the dough until you get a smooth, unsticky but not dry dough. Add the spinach and mix thoroughly. (You still want an unsticky dough, so if after adding the spinach your dough is too sticky, add more flour by the handful.)

3. Dividing the dough, roll portions into a 1/2-inch thick rope. Use a pizza wheel or pastry cutter to cut the ropes into 3/4-inch long pieces. Roll each piece along the concave side of a fork. You should have your thumbprint on one side and cool looking lines on the other.

4. If you're cooking right away, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Gently drop gnocchi in the water, but don't over-crowd them! After 2 minutes, gnocchi should rise to the surface. Cook a minute longer than gently remove from water.

These came out pretty good! My friend, Jersey (a sassy Italian from New Jersey), told me to try a potato ricer the next time I make them. Apparently it makes the gnocchi really light and airy. Has anyone worked with a potato ricer before?

I smothered these tasty gems with a garlicky tomato sauce that I'm definitely going to have to post. Speaking of posts, my next post is going to be an AH-MAZING giveaway. Hint: Red or green?

Just a little glimpse of what's been going on...

New jobs...

(while still working my wonderful old job!)

New friends...

(while still keeping my amazing old friends!)

Smooching on movie stars...

...and playing a LOT of Scrabble...

(How sweet is this picture???)

It's been a hard, crazy, busy, life-changing, interesting 6 months. I'm surviving and I'm picking myself up. I can't thank my family and my friends, both old and new, enough for putting up with me and helping me through the last year. I'm a pretty lucky girl after all. And I have to thank my taste-tester for the last 5 years. Without you, I wouldn't be who I am. This food wouldn't have been made and I wouldn't have the motivation to keep it up. <3

Stay tuned, folks. 2011 is going to have some delectable delights. Cheers!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Mexican Cold Soup

For some reason, that statement has always seemed wrong to me. I think of soup and I think steamy, hearty, belly-warming soup. "Cold soup" means you didn't heat it up in the microwave long enough!

Boy, was I wrong! A friend of mine made some Mexican Cold Soup this weekend and it looked and smelled AH-MAZING. I knew that I had to make some. This soup is 1. Perfect for summer (and it's still warm in New Mexico!) 2. Easy easy easy to make! 3. Doesn't require any cooking whatsoever. Anyone can make this soup!

Mexican Cold Soup
Prep time: 5 minutes

2 10-1/4 oz cans tomato soup, plus 2 10-1/4 oz cans water (like you're making tomato soup!)
1/2 cup lime juice
1/2 - 1 1/2 tbsp cayenne pepper (I used 1 1/2 tbsp and it's spiiiiicy!)
1 1/2 tbsp cumin
1 cucumber, peeled and diced (I cut around the seeds as well, but that's optional)
1 avocado, diced
24 oz corn
3-5 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped, plus more for garnish

1. In a large bowl, mix the tomato soup with water, lime juice, and spices. Add the vegetables and cilantro. Let soup get chilled in the fridge for at least an hour. Stir and serve!

*I know the sodium is through the roof here. Don't add any extra salt! There are also plenty of tomato soups that are low sodium now. I didn't have any in my pantry, so I just used regular soup. There are ways to lower that number! All in all, this soup is great for you. And the cayenne pepper? That's belly-warming. :)

This soup is hearty, filling, spicy, and yes...cold. So easy to make, so easy to eat. Enjoy!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Potato Cakes

'Ello, blogosphere!
What has it been now...a month since my last post? For those of you who I'm close to in real life, not just the wonderful world wide web, you know about all the craziness that has gone down the last few months. Everyone else, just know that I'm back. I'm cooking again, I'm baking again, and I'm sharing again!

My best best BEST friend, Marissa (teacup tattoo!), has a wonderful man in her life who happens to be from England. The three of us chat quite a bit (thank you, Blackberry...) and Mr. England talks about British food all the time. I don't know if it's because he's aware I'm a fat kid at heart or if he wants to show off all the tasty treats England has to offer. Either way, you won't hear me complaining!

Last week, I was home in New Hampshire when he mentioned Potato Cakes with Mushy Peas. I'm not going to lie: if I read that on a menu somewhere, I wouldn't order it. Maybe just the Mushy Peas part of it. I do love a good Latke, though, so after he went on about Potato Cakes, I decided I was going to whip up a batch for my mother and I.


Even the Mushy Peas! So good, in fact, I brought some to my sister and she wanted the recipe. Then I brought one into work this week and forks were coming in from all angles. My boss started expanding on the idea: Sweet Potato Cakes, anyone? Adding scallions? Sour cream?

The possibilities are endless. And inexpensive. My kinda dish!

Potato Cakes with Mushy Peas
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 15-20 minutes

3 large potatoes, peeled, diced, and boiled
2 tbsp Earth Balance soy butter, plus 2 tbsp for frying
2 tbsp - 1/4 cup unsweetened, full-fat soy milk
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 - 1 tbsp parsley
salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 - 1/2 cup unbleached flour

*I know the measurements aren't really exact. Since potatoes come in different sizes and starch levels, each batch might use a different measurement.

1. After you boil the potatoes, mash together the soy butter, milk, garlic, parsley, salt and pepper. You're basically making mashed potatoes here! Add the flour, starting with 1/4 cup. You're looking for a doughy consistency. It shouldn't stick to your hands but it shouldn't be too dense.

2. In a large frying pan over medium-high heat, melt the remaining soy butter. Form pancakes with 1/2 cup of the dough. You want them to be about 1/4-inch thick. Fry till a dark, golden, crispy brown and flip. When the other side is crispy, remove from heat and serve immediately.

Mushy Peas
Prep time: 2 minutes

2 cups frozen peas
2 tbsp soy butter
2 tbsp unsweetened soy milk
salt and pepper, to taste

1. Duh! Mush everything together! :) Serve with the freshly made Potato Cakes. I like my Mushy Peas right on top so each bite gets an equal amount of deliciousness.

Please promise me you'll try to make these! I'm a girl on a budget now and these are inexpensive, delicious, and you can make the dough and stick it in the fridge! You can eat them just like this, or maybe make them for breakfast like a hashbrown, or even a late night snack! Enjoy, ladies and gents!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Boston Cream Cupcakes

At a time like this, ladies and gents, a girl needs cupcakes. Chocolate and vanilla and cream filling...OH MY!!!
It's been a crazy summer. Not awesome, not exciting, just crazy. Things are very different and everything is upside down, but I'm still baking and I'm still vegan, so here we are!

These cupcakes are fancy! They take a bit more work than regular cook-and-frost cupcakes, but they're worth it. I promise. They're in three parts: the cupcake, the filling, and the ganache. It's work, but you'll love them!

Boston Cream Cupcakes
Prep time: 20-30 minutes, plus cooling time
Cook time: 20 minutes

Golden Vanilla Cupcake

1 cup plain soy milk
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 1/4 cups unbleached flour
2 tbsp cornstarch
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup canola oil
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 1/4 tsp vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350° F and line muffin pan with cupcake liners.

2. Whisk the soy milk and vinegar in a measuring cup and set aside a few minutes to get good and curdled.

3. Beat together the soy milk mixture, oil, sugar, and vanilla in a large bowl. Sift in the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and mix until no large lumps remain.

4. Fill cupcake liners two-thirds of the way (I use a 1/4 cup measuring cup to make sure they're all even) and bake for 20 to 22 minutes till done. Transfer to a cooling rack.

(Just so you guys know what Agar Agar looks's a picture of the kind I use. It's in the Asian section and is a must for any vegan kitchen!

Vanilla Vegan Pastry Creme

1/2 cup soy milk
1/2 tsp agar powder or 1 1/2 tsp agar flakes
4 tsp arrowroot
6 oz soft silken tofu (half of a Mori-Nu package)
1/3 cup superfine or castor sugar (I just blended regular sugar until it was the right consistency)
Pinch salt
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1. Pour 1/3 cup soy milk into a small saucepan; keep the remaining soy milk in the measuring cup. Sprinkle agar powder over the soy milk in the saucepan and cook mixture over medium heat, stirring constantly. Bring mixture to a boil, reduce heat, and continue to cook for about 4 minutes. The agar will be dissolved when the soy milk appears smooth, and a spoon dipped into the mixture does not have any undissolved agar flakes or powder flecks sticking to the spoon.

2. Whisk the powdered arrowroot into the remaining soy milk in the measuring cup. Pour the arrowroot mixture into the agar mixture in a steady stream, stirring the whole time. The mixture will cook and get very thick in 1 to 2 minutes, and when done it will resemble a very thick pudding. Remove from heat and set aside. Place it in the refrigerator and allow it to set for at least an hour.

3. Crumble tofu into a blender, add the sugar, salt, and cooked arrowroot mixture. Blend till creamy. Add vanilla extract and blend again. Scrape mixture into a container, cover, and put in refrigerator to chill and firm up, at least an hour.

Rich Chocolate Ganache Topping

1/4 cup soy milk
4 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped
2 tbsp pure maple syrup

1. Bring the soy milk to a gentle boil in a small sauce pan. Immediately remove from heat and add the chocolate and maple syrup. Use a rubber spatula to mix the chocolate until it is fully melted and smooth. Set aside at room temperature till ready to use.


1. Make a hole in the center of each cupcake by poking with your CLEAN finger (just sayin'.). Very gently press the sides and bottom of the hole to make it a little larger. You'll want the space to be able to fill in with lots of custard.

2. Fit a pastry bag with a large round or star-tipped nozzle, then fill bag with firmed pastry creme. Fill only halfway to make handling the bag easier.

3. Fill each cupcake with pastry creme, trying to get as much filling as possible into the cupcakes. Cupcakes should feel noticeably heavier. Remove any excess creme on top by wiping with a knife or finger. Spread tops of cupcakes with ganache. Chill until ready to serve.

There you have it! A little bit of Boston, no matter where you are.

Is there anything you want to see used in a recipe? Some crazy ingredient or a dish that you really want to try vegan?

PS: Stay tuned for a long-overdue giveaway!!!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Beer-Battered Onion Rings

When most people hear or think the word VEGAN, their brow furrows and they think, "What do you eat??". It isn't all tofu and fake meat, my curious little friends. I don't like food that tastes like twigs. I don't gather leaves outside and boil them in a broth of Burt's Bees and Whole Foods leftovers.

Great tasting food.
This girl can eat, I promise. Maybe it's not rotting carcass and maybe it's full of ingredients that confuse people even more than the phrase, "I LOVE TOFU!", but I love me some tasty grub.

Most days, I eat really well. I try to stick to 1200 calories or less, give or take depending on how hard I work out (or how hard I sit on the couch). Some days, however, I need comfort food.

Whether it's a fat day:

...or a bad hair day:

...or just a plain, ol' broken heart:

...comfort food really hits the spot. Maybe you'll feel a little guilty the next day, but nothing makes this girl feel better than something greasy or chocolatey or not-good-for-you. Hopefully these days don't last long, so I say SPLURGE!!!

That's why I love these onion rings.
1. They're beer-battered. I heart beer.
2. They're fried. I don't eat fried food often, but it's yummy.
3. They're onion-y. No one wants to be around someone who's eaten straight-up onions, unless they're eating them with you, so dig in.

Beer-Battered Onion Rings
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: However long it takes to get them greasy-brown

1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup beer (Bud Light for a bad hair day, IPA for the heart)
4 tablespoons Earth Balance, melted
salt to taste
1-2 large onions, sliced into rings
1 quart oil for frying

1. In a HUGE pan (or deep fryer, if you have one, which is crazy!), heat the oil to 375° F. If you don't have a thermometer, here's a trick: splash a drop of water in the oil and if it "freaks out", you're good to go.

2. Dip the onions in the batter. Try not to let a lot of it drip off; immediately and carefully drop the onion into the oil. Repeat! Make sure you don't overcrowd them. You can flip them over if you want, just to check the color. When they're golden brown, carefully take them out with a pair of tongs and place them on a plate covered in paper towels to absorb the greasy deliciousness. Do this until all your onions are cooked up. Sprinkle with salt to taste.

Serve this with leftover beer, then a full one. I dipped mine in a mixture of ketchup, vegan mayonnaise, and hot sauce. They were heavenly.

That's it, my dears. Remember: when all else fails, food is there for you. Spoken like a true fat kid. :)

I hope this Tuesday finds you with good hair, skinny jeans, and a happy heart!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

"Chicken" Salad

Goodness gracious!!!
Can you tell it's been a busy summer??? I just looked and saw that I only posted FIVE TIMES last month. I promise, it's with good reason. After visiting with my mom:

...going to Wisconsin to see some of our darling friends get married (and meeting some of the nicest people in the world!!! I love Wisconsin!!!):

...and having a visit from my best friend (she's Canadian, it's been 7 years, and it was the best trip EVER!):

(We got matching tattoos! We're avid tea drinkers. Tea has been there for us when jobs and boys and catty girls and the party scene haven't.)

...I'm a little tired and looking forward to some down time. Not before I share this amazing recipe with you, though!

I was at the grocery store the day that my MerMer left. My other favorite friend in the world (yeah, I have a few of those!), Missy, had sent me a text about the "chicken" salad she had just made. I asked for the ingredients, bought them, and within 20 minutes, was eating it. She laughed a bit at me because I had made it so fast, but it sounded so good!

(Quick background on Missy: we've known each other for years. For some reason, when we lived on the island of Okinawa together, we weren't vegan or even vegetarian. Now that we're no longer almost-neighbors, she decided to jump on the vegan bandwagon with me and we're both so aware of what we eat and how are bodies handle it.)

Missy & I 4 years ago:

Missy & I last month:

Going vegan has done a body good!

Anyway, I digress. This is a food blog, after all. :)

"Chicken" Salad
Prep time: 5 minutes

1 15-oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup Vegenaise
1-2 celery stalks, diced
1/4 cup green onion, thinly sliced
Black pepper, to taste (I used TONS)

1. Mash the chickpeas with a potato masher until there's just a few big pieces left. Add the other ingredients, mix, and enjoy thoroughly. Which you will. :)

Here's your nutritional value for REAL chicken salad (as seen here):

...and here's the value for THIS "chicken" salad:

Look at that protein and fiber! AND IT'S DELICIOUS, PEOPLE!!!
Cody gobbled this stuff up.

I don't know why you're still reading this. You should be at the store or going through your fridge, figuring out if you can make this. :)