Thursday, May 27, 2010

Vacations and Giveaways!

Hey, everyone! I've really been slacking this month on my blogging, but I promise, it's with good reason! My beautiful mother was here, visiting from New Hampshire. We were just busybusybusy. It was seriously nonstop! We had some amazing adventures and it still makes me sad to think she's already gone. I feel like time goes by faster when you want it to slow down. Here are some pictures from our trip:

We went hiking to hot springs, cheered at an Isotopes game, took the train to Santa Fe, and ate some delicious food along the way. She was here to help me celebrate my birthday and made it one of the most memorable days of my 28 years. I love you mom! <3

Since I've been so busy, I haven't been cooking up new stuff, so I'm going to do a giveaway. Have you tried Endangered Species Chocolate yet? This stuff is sooooo good. They're awesome enough to have sent me some samples and they're going to put together a gift basket for the winner of this giveaway!

Here are the rules!

1. Leave a comment telling me what your all-time favorite kind of chocolate is.
2. Go to the Endangered Species Chocolate webpage and tell me a something you learned!

Extra entries:

3. TWEET ME! Go post a link to this giveaway on Twitter and leave me a comment and link letting me know you did.
4. Link back on Facebook and, you guessed it, leave me a comment letting me know you shamelessly plugged my giveaway.
5. Have a blog? If you link back to this giveaway on your blog, you get FIVE EXTRA CHANCES to win so leave one comment with the link to your blog and 4 extra comments for being so awesome.

I'll announce the giveaway next Friday, June 4th. Which will be an awesome day in its own right. :)

I hope you've all had a wonderful week so far! Any big plans for Memorial Day?

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Coconut Lime Cupcakes

It's 6:23 in the morning and I've been up for nearly 3 hours.

Those of you who don't know, my entire family is in New Hampshire. It's where I was born and raised and it's my favorite state in the world! Live Free or Die! Anyway, last May, Sgt Husband & I drove (yes, DROVE) to my beautiful home state and visited with the family for a week. It was such an amazing time! I also went back in September for the Jacob Memorial Walk to remember my amazing nephew.

Seriously, how handsome! Love you & miss you, Jacob!

Anyway...due to flight changes and having to go back to work (where I got laid off the day I got back...awesome...), I was only able to spend 17 hours in New Hampshire. I don't really constitute that a visit. It was more of a tease! But here we are, one year later, and my mom is on her way here! I'm so nervous and excited and anxious...hence the no sleeping. Considering she's one of my biggest mentors for cooking, there will probably be some fancy stuff headed your way next week.


I made these cupcakes for Cinco de Mayo. The lime and coconut mix was absolutely perfect. They were light and refreshing, yet super moist and perfect.

Coconut Lime Cupcakes
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes

1/3 cup coconut oil
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup coconut milk
1/4 cup soy milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp coconut extract
1 tbsp lightly packed, finely grated lime zest
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup unsweetened coconut

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a cupcake pan with liners.

2. Melt the coconut oil in a small saucepan over very low heat. Once melted, turn the heat off but leave it in the pan on the stove so that it stays warm and does not solidify.

3. In a medium bowl, mix together the melted coconut oil and sugar. Add the coconut milk, soy milk, vanilla, coconut extract, and lime zest. Mix to combine.

4. Add the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Mix until smooth. Add the coconut and mix to incorporate.

5. Bake for 23 to 25 minutes, until the cupcake top springs back when touched and a toothpick inserted through the center comes out clean.

6. Cool completely before icing.

Lime Buttercream Frosting

1/2 cup vegetable shortening
1/2 cup vegan margarine (Earth Balance)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
3 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
1 tsp finely grated lime zest

1. Beat the shortening and margarine together until combined well and fluffy. Add the sugar and beat for about 3 more minutes. Add the vanilla and lime juice, beat for another 5 to 7 minutes or so until fluffy. Add the zest and mix to distribute. Chill until ready to use.


Heap the frosting onto the cupcakes. Place the flaked coconut on a pie plate. Gently roll the cupcakes, sides first, in the coconut. Place decorative lime slices on top. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.

I promise, if you like lime and you like coconut, you'll lurve these tasty little gems. They were a huge hit!

Alright, my dears. Off for some last minute cleaning (not that my house needs it after the week I've spent preparing), more coffee, and more Saved By the Bell. xo

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Jerky Winner! picked comment #31 this morning....which means that Leslie @ Better Together won some Primal Spirit Jerky!!! Jerky made of soy and mushrooms and seitan. I wonder what her husband will think of this?

I've got a few tasty recipes up my sleeve, lovelies. I just need to find the time! I'm trying to get my house immaculate for my mom. Don't get me wrong; my house is mostly spotless all the time. Alphabetized, color coded, you name it. My mom has just never been to a house that Cody & I lived in together because our only house prior to this was in Japan! Wish me luck on the cleaning!

If only I looked this good while doing said cleaning........wish me luck on that, too?

Friday, May 14, 2010

Eggs Benny

Happy Friday, bloggies! I hope you all have something wonderful and exciting planned this weekend, even if it's doing nothing. I'm going to be a tad bit busy and super jealous of all the people who get to run the Kirtland Armed Forces Day Half-Marathon. I have a bib, but sadly, I have a pulled hamstring. Just when I think it's getting better and I do a few squats to test it out, I'm reminded within minutes that it's not healed. Boooooo. Oh well. I still have my mommy coming in 5 DAYS to cheer me up.

My beautiful mom making a tasty drink.

Something else that cheers me up? Amazing food. Even more so: AMAZING BREAKFAST. I don't know what it is about breakfast, but I could eat it all day, every day. Pancakes, tofu scramble, french toast, and now my new favorite, Eggs Benny. This recipe is mostly from Isa Chandra Moskowitz' book, Vegan Brunch. A vegan cookbook dedicated to brunch?? Yee haw! Eggs Benny obviously starts with the English muffin. Which were homemade. And easy. I will never buy English muffins again. Then there's the egg, made with tofu. I didn't make the Hollandaise sauce from the book as I didn't have some of the ingredients. I also decided to add some Smart Bacon for the "ham" and some spinach because I love spinach and it gave the Benny a little florentine kick.

Eggs Benny
Prep time: English muffins should be do-aheads, as well as marinading the tofu. So start this the day before you want to make it.
Cook time: 15 minutes

English Muffins
1 tsp active dry yeast
1 tbsp sugar
1 cup lukewarm water

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 tsp salt

3 tbsp margarine (I use Earth Balance)

A few tablespoons cornmeal
Nonhydrogenated margarine for skillet

1. In a small bowl, combine the yeast, sugar, and water; set aside until the yeast has dissolved, about 5 minutes. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour and salt; make a well in the center and add the yeast mixture and margarine. Mix until a dough forms, then turn out onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and springy, 6 to 10 minutes. Return the dough to the bowl and cover with plastic wrap or a damp tea towel; set in a warm place and let rise until just about doubled, about an hour.

2. Preheat a cookie sheet in the oven to 350° F. Punch dough down and knead for a minute, then roll out on a floured surface until 1/2 inch thick. Cut into 3-inch rounds using a cookie cutter and pat both sides into cornmeal. Preheat a large skillet, preferably cast iron, over medium heat; melt about 1 tablespoon margarine in it (the pan should not be hot enough to burn the margarine). Cook the muffins in the pan in small batches so as not to crowd the pan, flipping once, about 1 minute a side or until it looks lightly browned like an English muffin. Put each batch straight from the skillet into the oven; bake for 6 to 10 minutes. Cool on a wire rack for half an hour before serving.

Tofu Eggs
2 pounds firm tofu
1 tbsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp ground mustard
1 cup vegetable broth
1/4 tsp arrowroot (I used cornstarch)
1 tsp black salt (I've referred to this a million times...I hope you've gotten some by now! :))
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
2 tbsp olive oil, plus more for cooking (I used some margarine to cook the tofu, so I didn't need more than 2 tbsp.)

1. Combine all the marinade ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Gently press some of the water out of the tofu. Lay the tofu on its narrow side and slice into three pieces lengthwise. So basically you will have three slices that are large, flat rectangles. Use a 3-inch cookie cutter to cut circles out of each tofu slice. Repeat with the next block of tofu. Reserve the rest of the tofu for another use, it will be about a pound of leftover.

2. Marinate the tofu circles for about an hour, but it's great to do overnight, too.

3. To time this right, you should start cooking the tofu when you're letting the Hollandaise sauce cool. It's really simple, just preheat a cast-iron pan over medium heat, add a thin layer of olive oil (or margarine) and cook on each side till nicely browned, about 15 minutes.

Hollandaise Sauce (NOT from this book.)
1/2 cup Earth Balance
1 cup vegan sour cream (I use Tofutti)
1/4 cup vegan mayonnaise (I use Vegenaise)
3 tsp nutritional yeast
1/4 tsp black salt (there it is again!)
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tbsp lemon juice

1. In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Whisk all the other ingredients in, making sure to keep it smooth. You don't want this to bubble, so keep on low for about 3 minutes, constantly stirring, then remove from heat.

At this point, cook your tempeh bacon, if using.


1. Either toast your English muffin or just slice and lay cut side up.
2. Add some baby spinach on top of the muffin.
3. Lay a few slices of bacon on the spinach.
4. Put your tofu on top of the bacon.
5. Smother with Hollandaise sauce.
6. Shovel into your mouth.

I hope you get the chance to at least make these English muffins. Cody & I both wolfed a couple down fresh out of the oven. They were seriously some of the best I've ever had. If you're not lucky enough to be vegan (toot toot), you can just replace the vegan margarine with regular margarine and make them just the same.

I hope you all have wonderful weekends! Last night, we were able to spend some time with some amazing married-friends. The dinner was great (and vegan! Thank you, my dear!), there was a lot of laughing, a lot of conversation, and even some tea at the end named Lady Londonderry (L-Town represent!). I hope you can find yourselves around friends like this at some point this weekend. It really lifted my spirits and reminded me of how absolutely lucky Cody & I are. XO

PS: My luck only comes in the form of good friends lately; I managed to pull my hamstring pretty bad at the Run for the Zoo a few weekends ago. Like, pulled-so-badly-it's-black-and-blue-all-along-my-thigh pretty bad. Maybe I need a pair of fancy compression socks like the AMAZING Skinny Runner is giving away on her fabulous, must-read blog.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


A few weeks ago, I made the BEST new dinner ever: Falafel with Tzatziki Sauce. Naturally, I paired it with some Kale Chips because we always have kale in the fridge, but I also had a box (yes, a box) of tabouli mix and I thought it would go perfect with our mostly-Mediterranean meal. I was a little disappointed! The tabouli from a box is far too minty and really just wasn't so good. Cody didn't really love it, but the sister-in-law thought it was good because she had never had tabouli before. Nothing to compare it to!

Well, brother-in-law Chuckles B. Hornsworth is home from a work trip and needed his turn with delicious falafel. This time, though, I decided to make homemade tabouli. I'm pretty sure it was cheaper, and more fresh, and more delicious. So you simply can't lose! Unless, of course, you're like me and hate tomatoes so much that cutting them makes you gag a little. Baby steps.

Prep time: 30 minutes

1 cup boiling water
1 cup Bulgar Wheat
1 cup minced fresh parsley leaves
1/2 cup minced fresh mint leaves
1/2 cup finely chopped yellow onion
1-3 tomatoes, diced (I only used one. I hate tomatoes. But you could probably add more!)
2 cucumbers, seeded and diced
3 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp lemon juice
1 teaspoons sea salt

1. In a large mixing bowl, pour the boiling water over the bulgar wheat and cover; let stand about 20 minutes until wheat is tender and water is absorbed. Add the chopped herbs and vegetables and toss with the mix. Drizzle the oil, lemon juice, and sprinkle the salt over the wheat mixture and mix well. Chill. Serve with warm pita chips or crackers.

I served it with the warm pita chips, but I also dished out some greek hummus because I think it's easier to put a lil' hummus on the pita and then try to get some tabouli on it. Food engineering, my friends. Both Cody & Deidra liked this tabouli better, especially Cody, who didn't really eat much of the boxed kind. It's the type of food that's better the next day, too; let those fresh spices sit and get friendly. It's amazing.

You know what else is amazing??? The jerky that I'm giving away!!! I'll announce the winner on Friday! So if you haven't entered yet, what are you waiting for??? :)

Monday, May 10, 2010

Corn Chowder

...or "chowdah" if you're from New England.

I've been on this frugal kick lately; my mom is coming to visit NEXT WEEK and I'm saving all my grocery shopping and cooking for her. This is going to be such a fun vacation for both of us. I seriously can't wait. It's been over a year since I got to spend time with my mom, so I'm sincerely looking forward to every last minute with her.

I digress! Me being frugal means going through my cabinets and trying to make something out of all the stuff I already have. This Vegan Paella was one of those meals. We've had a few blustery days here in good ol' New Mexico, so soup has still been on the menu. I decided to throw together some Corn Chowder because a. I LOVE CORN CHOWDER and b. I didn't have to go to the store for anything. Look how easy this soup is!

Corn Chowder
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 30-60 minutes

2 tbsp olive oil
2 small onions, chopped
2 tbsp Earth Balance
1/4 cup flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp ground turmeric
6 cups vegetable broth
3 large potatoes, peeled and diced
5 cups frozen corn
1 cup unsweetened, full-fat soy milk
1/4 cup vegan cheddar cheese (optional...unless you've tried DaiYa Cheese. It's unreal!)
2 tbsp bacon bits (YES! They're vegan!)

1. In a large stockpot over medium heat, get your olive oil and butter warmed up. Add the onions and and cook for 10 minutes, until the onions are translucent.

2. Stir in the flour, salt, pepper, and turmeric and cook for 3 minutes. Add the vegetable broth and potatoes, bring to a boil, and simmer uncovered for 15 minutes, until the potatoes are tender. Add the corn to the soup, then add the soy milk and cheese (if using). Cook for 5 more minutes, until the cheese is melted. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper. Serve hot with bacon bits as garnish.

This is a super-easy soup and is actually really good for you. It doesn't require skillz in the kitchen, either. You can kinda just throw it all together. So long as you know how to chop veggies, you can make this. Plus, it's better after a few days! Gotta love soup...

If you haven't gone over to my Primal Spirit Foods Jerky Giveaway yet, WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR??? I think I might let this one go a little bit longer and let my MOM pick the winner on Hope everyone has a wonderful week!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Primal Spirit Foods Jerky

Happy Hump Day, blogosphere! I hope you're all finding yourself in good spirits and good weather. And Happy Cinco de Mayo! As someone who served and a wife of someone who served, I think it's so great that our country and most of its people are able to enjoy such an eclectic array of holidays. We're pretty lucky!

One of the things I find myself missing most, aside from cheese, is jerky. Cody's aunt makes some preeeeety tasty homemade jerky and she sends it out by the box. From teriyaki to pepper, she makes some great flavors. Unfortunately, the whole thought of actually consuming real, dried, animal flesh makes me a little nauseous. Ugh. Lucky for us, there's Primal Spirit Foods!!! The fabulous people from Primal Spirit sent me a bunch of their jerky: some for me to try and some for me to giveaway!!!!!

Cody & I both took a turn tasting these perfectly packaged treats. Here's what we thought!

Thai Peanut: We were kind of hoping for more heat. When I think Thai, I think spicy. It was super moist, so not quite jerky, but the texture was neat. I did like the peanut taste, but I wouldn't call it "Thai".

Hickory Smoked: GREAT FLAVOR!!! The texture was right on, too. This one is soy, which I think helps the texture and its chewiness. This one rocked!

Teriyaki: This one also rocked the flavor. It kind of fell apart, though. More like fillet mignon than jerky.

Hot & Spicy: This WAS, in fact, hot and spicy. It's also shitake mushroom, so it was good and chewy.

Texas BBQ: This one kinda fell apart on us. I do love a good BBQ, though! Maybe they should make this one a tad bit bigger than the rest since apparently everything is bigger in Texas?

Mesquite Lime: WOW!!! This one got your sucker puckered! It's definitely lime, that's for sure. By far the best texture, too!

Do you want to try these protein-packed snacks? I'm giving away one of each, so if you're intrigued, enter the giveaway! Here are the rules:

1. Leave a comment telling me why you want to try Primal Spirit Foods Jerky. (REQUIRED)


2. Leave a separate comment telling me which flavor you want to try!

3. Go to Primal Spirit Foods and leave a separate comment telling me something you learned...or something you already knew.

4. Tweet about it! Leave a link via comment telling me you did so!

5. Got Facebook? MySpace? Leave another comment telling me that you shamelessly plugged me.

6. Got a blog? Link back...and leave THREE comments linking back, including the link!

Get on it, folks! This is some tasty, unique shtuff. Happy Wednesday!

PS: Looking for some fun, safe, playtime stuff for the kiddos? Check out my friend's blog, Reaping What I Sow. She's giving away gluten free clay from AromaPlay. You don't want to miss out on this!!!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Vegan Paella

Paella (Spanish pronunciation: [paˈeʎa]) is a Valencian rice dish that originated in its modern form in the mid-19th century near lake Albufera, a lagoon in Valencia, on the east coast of Spain.

I can't say I know much about Paella. What I do know, I likey. I know the first time I had it, I went back for seconds. It was full of shrimp and muscles, had a mild taste but was definitely Spanish. I know that my beautiful, Cuban best friend loves Paella and her parents make it the best. I also know that it's rice made with saffron (which sounds so exotic when said best friend says it) and loads of veggies. To me, Paella is kind of like goulash: if you have something to put in it, PUT IT IN!!!

I had some veggies and lots of rice and grains, so this is the Paella I came up with:

Vegan Paella
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 20-30 minutes

1/2 cup quinoa* (pronounced /ˈkiːnoʊ.ə/ or /kwɨˈnoʊ.ə/ or keen-wah)
1 cup brown rice
2 3/4 - 3 cup vegetable broth
splash of beer, whatever you have on hand and are drinking while you cook, per order of Cuban BFFL
1 yellow onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp olive oil
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
2 cups artichoke hearts, quartered
14 oz diced tomatoes, lightly drained
15 oz kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 tsp saffron, crushed
1/2 tsp cumin
2 tsp Spanish paprika
dash cayenne pepper
salt & pepper, to taste
1 cup frozen or fresh peas
black olives (I used oil cured black olives)
fresh parsley, coarsely chopped, for garnish

*I know quinoa isn't a traditional grain in Paella, but I had it on hand so I HAD to use it. Plus, it's so much fun to say! If you don't have any quinoa, just use an additional 1/2 cup of rice.

1. In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook a little longer. Stir in the quinoa and/or the rice with the saffron; stir and cook for 2 minutes. Add the vegetable broth, peppers, artichokes, tomatoes, beans, cumin, paprika, cayenne pepper, and salt & pepper (if using). Bring to a boil and reduce heat to very low. Cover; cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

2. After 15 minutes, check on the grain. If it's a little dry, add 1/4 cup broth. If it's still hasn't absorbed all the liquid, keep cooking on low. I cooked for about 25 minutes after adding the extra 1/4 cup broth. Add the peas, stir, and cook until heated through. Garnish with black olives and fresh parsley.

I ate this with a sweet potato smothered in La Salita Red Chile for my pre-race meal. If you check out the carbs, you'll see I was on the right track! The serving size in the nutritional value if you're making it a MEAL. This is such a good side dish, though, so don't be turned off by it's high caloric and carb numbers! Bring it to a potluck or a BBQ. Make it and eat it as me, it's better as leftovers! Whatever you do, however you serve it, just don't miss out on this amazing dish!

PS: Keep your eyes peeled for a giveaway, lovelies!